A see-sawing affair at Suncorp Stadium has seen the Brisbane Broncos prevail 13-12 over the Canberra Raiders after an unlikely field goal from Jordan Kahu gave the Broncos another win this season.
In a rather scrappy affair throughout, the conditions were not easy to play in as rain over the course of the day produced a waterlogged pitch that made making metres difficult.
It was a special game for the Broncos but particularly for hooker Andrew McCullough, who played in his 200th game – the youngest forward to reach the milestone.
He produced a brilliant performance, racking up a phenomenal 61 tackles and scoring a try to boot.
It was a defensive juggernaut in the first half from both sides as they toiled, tried and tested the opposition lines but failed to produce any tries.
Instead, the only points scored before the break was courtesy of two penalty goals, one for either side.
The Broncos burst out of the blocks, though, as first McCullough and then Darius Boyd got on the scoresheet to go up 12-2.
Canberra’s never-say-die attitude was rife again, however, as Jordan Rapana proved why many regard him as one of the game’s elite wingers with a lovely, soaring finish in the corner.
They then scored again after quick hands and a slick play down the right-hand side opened the Broncos defence up, leading to Blake Austin scoring the try.
Soon after, though, the unlikely field-goal hero in Kahu stepped up as from 30m out, he let fly with his kick that ricocheted off the inside post to make it over.
In a game that neither side perhaps deserved to lose, both teams can hold their heads high for different reasons.
Always the modest type, McCullough tried to deflect attention from his 200th game but admitted he was proud to reach the milestone.
“It wasn’t about my milestone or anything, I just wanted to win the game,” said the in-form hooker.
“In saying that, the milestone played on my mind a little bit this week.
“To get to 200 is very special to me. I just wanted to play my best for a great bunch of teammates and I feel I did that.”
Coach Wayne Bennett was also pleased with McCullough’s milestone and praised his performances so far in 2017.
“Andrew has been one of our best players every game this season. He’s been a wonderful player for the club throughout his whole career,” Bennett said.
“Everyone knows he gives his best all the time and nothing changed on Friday night.
“I’m just pleased the boys could get the win and do it for him.
Another talking point out of the game was a crucial intercept taken by 18-year old Raiders winger, Nick Cotric.
It was an intercept that drew praise from all corners of the Raiders dressing room for his calm, collected composure.
“Coming up with a play like that at Suncorp Stadium at that crucial time just shows that he’s ready for first grade and he’s got a long career ahead of him,” Josh Papalii said.
“He’s not a quiet kid, he’s got a lot of energy. Especially when he’s around the halves he’s always going to be a bit chirpy but it’s good to have another personality in the team and we’re all about that.”
Player of the Game:
3. Andrew McCullough
2. Jordan Rapana
- Adam Blair
Brisbane Broncos 13 (McCullough, Boyd tries; Kahu 2 goals; Kahu field goal) def. Canberra Raiders 12 (Austin, Rapana tries; Croker 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Crowd: 29,370. Holden Cup: Broncos 24-16.