All the focus should have been on the clash between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the North Queensland Cowboys, but instead, a road accident threatened to stall proceedings.
A road accident that resulted in fatalities on the M1 caused mass delays for fans travelling to the game and even its players.
Matt Dufty only just made it in time for kick-off, as Jeremy Latimore ditched his car on the highway and caught a ride with a motorbike.
It was a nightmare for everyone travelling to Wollongong, with more tickets sold than those people who actually made the game.
It was a tit-for-tat affair overall, as the Cowboys recorded the first points of the game via a Jordan Kahu penalty goal.
They would then extend their lead, as Michael Morgan’s pass found Kyle Feldt, before he passed back inside for his centre in Tom Opacic.
The Dragons very nearly pulled one back soon after, only for Dufty’s foot to brush the sideline in the act of scoring.
All the points went the Cowboys way, as Scott Drinkwater showcased his fine skills to slice through some wafer-thin Dragons defence.
There was some hope, however, owing to two missed conversions and a late Dragons try.
A deft Ben Hunt grubber in behind the Cowboys defence, saw winger Mikaele Ravalawa win the race to the ball to score.
The second half belonged to the Dragons, as a contentious point turned the game on its head.
A whopper of a hit on Michael Morgan from Dragons back rower Tariq Sims saw the talented utility leave the field. He would not return.
From there, the Dragons ceased momentum, clawed the deficit back and held on to win.
The first try to so was Dufty who would eventually get his try; he raced through the defence to catch a Corey Norman kick to score.
Two further tries to Euan Aitken and Jacob Host effectively sealed the game for the Dragons.
Opacic would grab a second as a late consolation for the Cowboys.
The moment that saw Morgan forced from the field caused much debate between the two coaches.
Cowboys coach Paul Green felt that the shot was late, high, and should have been dealt with more harshly.
“I thought it was late and high,” Green said.
“He didn’t come back on. They bought it up in the NRL about protecting ball players after they play, we saw it in a different way there tonight.
“They’ll look at the tackle and it was spoken about in that [competition committee] meeting about protecting the ball players once they have passed the ball.”
The same could not be said for Dragons coach Paul McGregor who vehemently denied Green’s claims.
“Am I comfortable with the tackle, absolutely,” McGregor said.
“He wrapped his arms around him, how can you stop in that momentum. It was looked at, there was a scrum packed, move on.
“Zip his mouth.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Matt Dufty
2. Tom Opacic
- Jacob Host