Brisbane Broncos have bolstered their NRL position, targeting a spot in the top two after scoring a commanding 30-14 victory over their arch-rivals, North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville. A stellar defensive performance that withstood a relentless onslaught was at the heart of the Broncos‘ commendable triumph.
Touted as a high-pressure, enthralling encounter, the classic game had spectators on the edge of their seats as Brisbane’s try line proved to be a fortress that North Queensland struggled to breach.
Stepping up to the plate in the absence of team captain Adam Reynolds (groin), five-eighth Ezra Mam showcased a remarkable defensive acumen. His heroic last-minute tackles and critical interception diverted a seemingly imminent surge from the opposition.
The Broncos also wielded their powerhouse duo, Payne Haas and Patrick Carrigan, to maximum effect. The dynamic pair punched gaping holes in the Cowboys line, setting up the stage for fullback Reece Walsh. Unleashing a reign of terror, Walsh divided and conquered, haunting the Cowboys on either side of the ruck.
The unmistakable high note in the crescendo of the game was a try by Walsh with barely seven minutes on the clock. The score appeared to seal the Broncos‘ victory, even as a late try from Heilum Luki – back in the NRL fold – revived some hope for the home crowd. However, a breathtaking interception from Selwyn Cobbo just one minute from time put the final stamp on Brisbane’s exhilarating victory.
The Broncos withstood an astounding 38 play-the-balls inside their 20-metre line from a determined North Queensland, yet they kept their opponents to a bare minimum, conceding only three tries. Two of these were claimed by Kyle Feldt, whose second was marked in the 59th minute, narrowing Brisbane’s lead.
Despite an initial close call within five minutes, Brisbane’s Kotoni Staggs negated any chance of Feldt making an early impact with a superb diving effort. Capitalising on their first deep incursion into the territory, Brisbane’s Billy Walters‘ tactical run set the stage for Jesse Arthars to draw first blood.
Exemplifying the ebb and flow of this rugby encounter, Feldt managed to even the scoreboard with a try off a left-edge play. However, the Broncos swiftly regained momentum, wasting no time in putting forwards Tom Flegler and Brendan Piakura into the fray, with the latter just missing out on a two-on-one opportunity.
Notwithstanding some ill-discipline that cost the Cowboys dearly in the first half, Chad Townsend managed to close down his team’s deficit with a penalty, ending a high-tension first half at 12-6 in Brisbane’s favour.
The disappointing defeat for the Cowboys has raised real concerns for their finals contention. Now teetering on the brink of slipping out of the top eight, the Cowboys face a daunting challenge to secure a finals berth with only four rounds remaining.