Cowboys fans would have been tearing their hair out, this was the one that got away. Late in the game they looked to have the wood on the tiring Broncos; but unforced errors on simple plays from Webb, Bowen and Tonga simply broke their backs.
There was a healthy and vocal crowd of 45,022 on hand – eventually bursting at the seams, with an impressively fast streaker doing a mercy dash with security trying desperately to catch him late in the piece.It took a calm Peter Wallace field goal with minutes remaining to get his side home over a mistake riddled Cowboys outfit.
For new coach Ivan Henjack, it wasn’t all smooth sailing but a win is a win. Former water-boy Henjack looked much different minus the fluro gear and housed in the coaches box; but there was no sign of the poker face – as Henjack unleashed a huge spray late in the piece with the game on the line.
Dave Taylor was a class above tonight, the big Brisbane prop putting on some stylish hit and spin plays early to setup Corey Parker in the first half.
The Broncos rookies and expensive recruits flexed their muscles, Folau getting an early try and former Tiger Ben Teo highly involved.
It took longer for the Cowboys to warm-up, but when the did – it was Matt Bowen and Willie Tonga doing the most damage for the Northerners.
Leading halfback Jonathan Thurston had an average night, heavily involved in defence and probably lacking fitness in attack – he did however setup some strong attacking raids, but probably spent too much time trying to contain Folau in defence.
Webb was diamonds and stones. The big prob getting a nice try, but spilling several balls and copping a hiding at the hands of the Broncos defence.
At 18-14 late in the piece, the hot and cold Cowboys had done enough to win this game.
But speedy rookie Jharal Yow Yeh proved cool under pressure, slicing over for a late try in the corner to tie the scores up at 18-18 with just over 10 minutes to go.
With Parker unable to convert, it looked certain to go to golden point.
Enter Peter Wallace.
Wallace snapped the short range field goal with minutes to go, giving the Broncos the lead and ensuring the Cowboys couldn’t reply.
New Cowboys coach Neil Henry would be ruing the one that got away, but will have some positives to take away. Willie Tonga looked good early, only to drop his bundle with several errors as the game wore on.
Shannon Hegarty had a night he might want to forget, coughing up plenty of ball and blatantly hogging final tackle plays as his high profile teammates looked on in astonishment.
Matt Bowen however looked to be returning to his vintage form, after a horror run with injury to pocket dynamo got better as the game wore on. He too made errors, but had plenty of plays to make up for it – as he chimed into the attack.
The Broncos win makes it the 4th straight over the Cowboys in recent times.
Many forget that the Cowboys only just missed the wooden spoon in 2008 and tonight showed the difference between first and last in the NRL – it can at times only be a narrow margin.