Jonathan Thurston kicked an extra time field goal to deliver the North Queensland Cowboys their maiden premiership with a 17-16 victory over the Brisbane Broncos.
With the Broncos in front 16-12 in the final moments of the game Cowboy five-eighth Michael Morgan assisted Kyle Feldt in the corner to level the game and leaving the fate of the match in Thurston’s conversion attempt form the sideline.
The four-time Dally M award winner dramatically hit the post with his shot, sending the match into extra time. Brisbane half Ben Hunt dropped the ball from the kick off giving the Cowboys the opportunity to steal the premiership from the Broncos’ grasp in front of 82,758 screaming fans at ANZ Stadium.
It only took a couple of plays for Thurston to calmly slot the field goal to give North Queensland their first trophy since their inception in 1995.
The game began with a high intensity but it was the Broncos who shot out of the cannon. Corey Parker slotted a penalty for 40 metres before they raced the length of the field from the kick off for Corey Oates to score to give his side an 8-0 lead.
The Cowboys hit back instantly through a set play from a scrum which ended in Justin O’Neill crashing over the line to reduce the deficit before James Tamou scored from close range to put Paul Green’s side 12-8 in front after 25 minutes.
In the 33rd minute a rare Thurston mistake proved costly as Matt Gillett pounced on the loose ball before running 20 metres and assisting Jack Reed to put Brisbane back in front heading into the break.
Ill-discipline again was an issue to start the second half as the Cowboys gave away two penalties in the space of two minutes. The latter leading to Jordan Kahu to convert his side to a 16-12 lead.
The Cowboys, led by Thurston, threw everything at Brisbane but outstanding defence by the Broncos saw them hold their four point lead for a large majority of the second half until Feldt crossed over in the corner.
The Cowboys turned over the ball on halfway and set out for their last attack. Thurston looked surprisingly lost on the last play but eventually found Morgan who ran at the defence drawing in Oates on the left wing leaving the Cowboy winger an open try line.
Thurston, who last won a premiership with the Bulldogs in 2004, was awarded the Clive Churchill Medallist for player of the match. –Jesse Mullens
Top photo from official North Queensland Cowboys Facebook page.