With teams breathing down their neck, the Broncos simply had to win at Suncorp Stadium against the Eels last night. A victory would go a long way towards ensuring a finals spot.
A loss would send Queensland football into disarray after disappointing seasons from the Titans and Cowboys.
The sense of desperation was clear from the onset and, with both teams appearing to fear a loss rather than boldly showing the courage required to snatch victory, the match took quite some time to get going.
Just a pair of penalty goals bothered the scoreboard attendants early during a tense opening 20 minutes, with the scores level at 2-2.
Maiko Sivo scored unopposed in the left corner for the Eels after 24 minutes, yet the Broncos responded after a superb run from Darius Boyd and the subsequent try to human cannonball David Fifita, that gave the Broncos an 8-6 lead after 32 minutes.
Just a dopey late penalty from the Eels affected the half-time score and the Broncos accepted the two points with open arms to head to the sheds with a 10-6 advantage. It all felt a little eerie and as though something was about to explode. How correct that feeling proved to be.
It took less than three minutes in the second-half for the Broncos to stake their claim. Darius Boyd trailed a grubber kick into the in-goal to score and the conversion sent the home side well clear at 16-6.
Andrew McCullough found his way to the sin bin soon after; holding down Sivo following a stunning run down the left wing, yet his mates did a superb job in holding the fort in his absence.
When McCullough returned, the Broncos galvanised, as they have all season. In spite of many questioning their credentials, Brisbane continue to look more threatening the longer the season goes.
As for Parramatta, well they did exactly what we didn’t expect. They fought, scrapped and refused to die. Blake Ferguson scored the most astonishing try in the corner to pull the Eels within six before Kane Evans crashed over with three minutes remaining to level the scores at 16.
How Jamayne Isaako’s 80th minute field goal attempt missed is beyond me; the post playing a role as the match headed to golden point.
It took just over a minute for the Broncos to seal the deal after another astonishing run from David Fifita. My heart was racing and I’m sure every fan of the game was on the edge of their seat as Isaako slotted the field goal that confirmed the Broncos’ 17-16 victory.
In the early Friday night match the Warriors continued their poor finish to the 2019 season when Wayne Bennett’s Rabbitohs put them well and truly to the sword at Mt Smart Stadium.
I’m not a Warriors fan. If I was, I would be asking for my money back after another listless season where the club never really threatened. The Warriors medium term trajectory is unsustainable and after another season of mediocrity, Stephen Kearney’s position must be seriously in question.
Eventually, and after some early resilience, the Bunnies confirmed their top four credentials and took control of the contest. It began with a Cameron Murray try in the 16th minute as he slid rather fortuitously across the wet surface to score.
The flood gates appeared to have opened after a 27th minute try to Alex Johnston and with a subsequent 14-0 lead established after 32 minutes, the Warriors looked likely to suffer another embarrassing loss.
To their credit, the home side refused to provide a saloon passage into the top four for the cardinal and myrtle. First half tries to Adam Pompey and Ken Maumalo brought the Warriors within four at the break and there was something of an ominous feeling in the air for Souths, as the teams headed to the sheds.
Any such feeling proved to be utterly inaccurate, as the Bunnies used two second half tries and the boot of Adam Reynolds, to establish a 30-10 lead with seven minutes remaining. A late Reynolds field goal extended the lead to 21 and the Bunnies moved temporarily back into the top four on the back of a 31-10 victory.
The Rabbitohs appear to be locks for action in the final three weeks of the season and the Warriors look very similar to the impostors they have been for so long. The definition of insanity comes to mind when the discussion turns to the New Zealand Warriors.
As for the Eels and Broncos, well, they made my night and I’m sure the night of many a rugby league fan.