Broncos star in doubt for first final
Broncos captain Darius Boyd will be racing the clock to prove his fitness for next weekend's likely finals match-up with the Sydney Roosters after failing to finish his side's 20-10 win over the Cowboys in Townsville on Thursday night.
The extent of Boyd's hamstring injury was the major talking point after the visitors moved into second position on the ladder and confined the Cowboys to an uncertain finals fate that now depends on either the Sea Eagles or Dragons being beaten.
The injury to Boyd came in the final play of the first half as he turned to chase a Michael Morgan kick, the Broncos custodian immediately grabbing at his leg as he went to ground.
He managed to walk from the field without any great imposition and while confident the strain is only minor admitted post-match that he could miss next week's opening match of the Telstra Premiership Finals Series.
"I think it's a neural thing so it shouldn't be too bad," said Boyd.
"It's a week at worst. I might play next week, that's pretty good in my eyes."
In addition to Boyd's injury back-rower Tevita Pangai Jnr aggravated the hamstring injury that forced him to miss last week's loss to the Eels but like his skipper Broncos coach Wayne Bennett said that any damage was only minor.
The loss of Boyd for the second half necessitated a reshuffle of the backline with Benji Marshall coming on at halfback and Kodi Nikorima switching to fullback but it didn't disrupt the defensive resolve they displayed last week.
A week after conceding 52 points to Parramatta, Brisbane's defence held firm in the face of wave after wave of desperate Cowboys attack in the second term, only conceding a try in the in the final minute of the half.
"It's nice to see them play the way they did tonight in terms of turning up in defence," Bennett said.
"It was pretty good ball control, some pretty good attack at times. There were a few things we could be a little bit better at but the bottom line is that there was a lot more good for us tonight going forward than what happened to us last week.
"It wasn't perfect tonight – I wasn't expecting it to be perfect – but I was pleased with the courage they displayed. They were really good in that area.
"We knew we had to defend well here. I think they've got the best ball control in the competition.
"They're a disciplined team and they stick to what they know works for them and they did that tonight but we were good enough to repel them. Time and time again actually."
Like Bennett, Boyd spoke glowingly of the ability of his teammates to turn up with the right attitude and keep at bay a North Queensland team playing for a place in the finals with 63 per cent of the ball in the second half.
"Last week was a hiccup and even though the Cowboys have some injuries it's always a tough ask coming up here and getting a result," said Boyd.
"To turn things around in a week and focus on some key areas and actually action it out in the game I thought was most pleasing.
"We had a few injuries ourselves and the defensive performance in the second half was good to see."