Needing a win to try and avoid the wooden spoon, the North Queensland Cowboys got their wish with an entertaining win over rivals, the Brisbane Broncos.
In a game that saw Sam Thaiday become just the 33rd player in Australian rugby league history to play 300 games, the Cowboys spoiled his party.
They went on to win 34-30 in an entertaining contest at 1300 Smiles Stadium.
It was the Cowboys who came out all guns blazing as Gideon-Gela Mosby and Jason Taumalolo scored to give them a 14-2 lead.
Gela-Mosby was the quickest to react to a grubber and Taumalolo pounced on a loose ball after a Broncos error.
The game then took a turn in the Broncos favour.
James Roberts raced away for a 55 metre intercept try before the Broncos were then given an eight-point try.
Matt Lodge bustled over for a rare try and was collected by Cowboys fullback Te Maire Martin’s knees post-try.
Grant Atkins made did not hesitate, immediately awarding the eight-point try and giving the Broncos a 16-14 lead.
Two penalty goals for the Cowboys; one to Johnathan Thurston and a remarkable mid-field torpedo from 55m out from Kyle Feldt gave them the lead at half-time.
As the battle of the wrestle reigned supreme early in the second half, it was a penalty goal that tied things up for the Broncos.
Two quick tries for the Broncos then saw them go twelve points up.
Korbin Sims scored another try to continue his rich vein of form before Tevita Pangai Jr. capitalised on good lead-up play.
This should have been the icing on the cake in the eyes of many but the return of the Cowboys starting forwards changed the game.
The comeback was on as the Cowboys shifted right as a lovely Justin O’Neill pass saw Feldt score in the corner.
In just the next set, Gavin Cooper crashed over, the conversion reducing the deficit to just two points.
The home crowd then erupted when a Thurston grubber bounced deviously away from Anthony Milford, with Coen Hess there to pounce.
That would be all she wrote for the Cowboys to claim their much-needed win.
Cowboys coach Paul Green praised the experience of his forward pack in getting back into the contest.
“It’s probably an area where the Broncos have some good forwards but they don’t have as much experience as some of our guys,” he said.
“Those guys did an enormous job for us, not that stats are everything but if you look at their run metres, it was really good to see and Johnno and Te Maire and those blokes got on the back of those.”
Even with the lead his side had, Broncos coach Wayne Bennett knew the game was far from safe but did praise his side’s effort.
“No, never against the Cowboys, they always have that ability to come back,” Bennett said.
“I wouldn’t have thought we did enough until the fulltime siren went.
“The effort was there, I’m not critical of our effort, but 46 per cent ball control [in the first half] and all the things that we could have done so much better and they just kept turning up.”
Player of the Game:
3. Jason Taumalolo
2. Tevita Pangai Jr.
- Johnathan Thurston