Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt helped himself to a hat-trick as North Queensland consigned the Broncos to their first ever wooden spoon with a 32-16 victory at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.
Feldt went to the top of the NRL try scoring list with 19 and gave retiring Cowboys legend Gavin Cooper a winning finish to his stellar 323-game career.
Retiring Broncos premiership winner Darius Boyd, in his 337th match, did everything in his power to conjure up a win in his own swansong but to no avail.
Adding injury to insult for Brisbane was a suspected ACL tear for backline star Kotoni Staggs, a devastating blow with a Blues Origin berth beckoning.
The standout player for Brisbane this year, the 21-year-old could be out of action until the middle of 2021.
The Broncos interviewed the candidates to be the next coach on Thursday with Kevin Walters and Paul Green both fronting the board. The club's record 11th loss in a row showcased just what a huge job is ahead of whoever gets the gig.
Match: Broncos v Cowboys
Round 20 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
"It's extremely disappointing [to get the wooden spoon]. It is not the finish we wanted," Broncos caretaker coach Peter Gentle said.
"The table doesn't lie."
The standard of the football reflected the standings of both teams on the ladder with a comedy of errors punctuating the match on a regular basis.
The Broncos struck early when Herbie Farnworth tapped back a Tom Dearden bomb for Payne Haas to snaffle the crumbs and score.
Staggs hobbled off in the 10th minute before Boyd went into dummy-half and with sheer determination burrowed past two lazy markers to score the 87th try of his career.
Drinkwater provides Feldt with his hat-trick
A Jason Taumalolo one-on-one strip turned momentum and from the ensuing set of six Jake Clifford out-jumped Boyd to take a Scott Drinkwater bomb on the run and score under the sticks.
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow had what would have been a sizzling try called back by the NRL Bunker when he was ruled to be just off-side when Drinkwater unleashed an outrageous kick from inside his own 10-metre line for the man known as ‘The Hammer' to swoop on a Xavier Coates error.
The new experimental rules then kicked in, where the NRL Bunker can review a try awarded by the on-field referee before the conversion is attempted.
The Broncos went back to their bumbling ways with handling errors and a defensive misread by Corey Oates providing Feldt with a saloon passage to the line from a Val Holmes pass.
Holmes's passing game was on song and he found veteran centre Justin O'Neill running a superb outside-in line to crash over and give the Cowboys a 16-12 lead at the break.
Boyd gets a try in his farewell game
Boyd played five-eighth and fullback in the second half and did his level best to get his side back in the game. From a loose carry Dearden sliced through and found Oates, who did extremely well to score in the corner and level it up at 16-all.
Drinkwater's genius came to the fore with a three-man cut-out ball sending Feldt over for his 18th try of the season and into the lead on the NRL try scoring ladder for the year.
Drinkwater capped a superb game with a slick grubber for Feldt to notch his hat-trick.
The electric Tabuai-Fidow completed the scoring with a 60-metre sprint to the tryline after Holmes had run the first 40 metres and set him on his way in a length of the field special.
Cooper was given the kicking duties and slotted the conversion with ease to put an exclamation mark on a memorable night.
"It was great to send Gavin out the right way and there has been a lot of attention, and rightfully so, around Gav and his career and also John Asiata tonight who played his last game for the club," Cowboys careteaker coach Josh Hannay said.
"He is a grand final winner and that unfortunately gets lost in Coops' send-off but it was great to send them both out the right way.
"Both clubs are turning over a new chapter in their history and there were two footy sides out there with really young players.
"While we can look at where both clubs sit on the ladder I have no doubt that in the very near future with the youth and talent in both squads that there will be some cracking derbies with a lot of those players you saw tonight."