The Brisbane Broncos have escalated their chances of landing a top-two finish in the league, following a victory over North Queensland in a 30-14 win. The match played out in Townsville was marked by the Broncos‘ topnotch defensive strategy that became a game changer.
In the absence of the injured skipper Adam Reynolds, while nursing a groin injury, five-eighth Ezra Mam took on a leading role for the Broncos. Mam garnered applause for his last-minute tackles and a remarkable intercept near his line and became a key player in a match that was borderline tumultuous.
The pressure was kept on the Cowboys, with Broncos players Payne Haas and Patrick Carrigan carving a path through the centre. Their aggressive advances created opportunities for fullback Reece Walsh to exploit the Cowboys‘ weak spots.
In the last seven minutes of the match, a score by Walsh seemed to settle the fate of the game. Nonetheless, Heilum Luki, returning to the NRL, scored for the Cowboys and gave the home team supporters a glimmer of hope. However, this anticipation was cut short, as Broncos winger Selwyn Cobbo intercepted a pass, breaking away within the last minute, solidifying the Broncos victory.
The statistics speak volumes about the defensive prowess of the Broncos, which saw North Queensland having 38 play-the-balls within Brisbane’s 20-metre line, but yielded merely three tries. Two of these tries were seized by Kyle Feldt, with his second try in the 59th minute reducing the point gap to 10.
Feldt’s breakthrough happened after both teams had matched each other in the set-for-set in the second half. During the heated exchange, Jock Madden managed to surpass his defender and assisted Mam.
With Feldt strategically utilising the left-edge, the Cowboys experienced a brief period of dominance. Following their trail, Brisbane wasted two significant opportunities within minutes when Tom Flegler and Brendan Piakura missed Scott Drinkwater in a two-on-one scenario after breaking through the defensive line.
In the closing minutes of the first half, the visitors were held back by their poor discipline. However, a penalty kicked by Chad Townsend for the Cowboys concluded an animated first half with a scoreline of 12-6, favoring Brisbane.
This critical loss places the Cowboys at risk of dropping out of the top eight. With only four rounds left to play, their chances at reaching the finals are hanging by a thread.