Andrew McCullough of the Brisbane Broncos (right) kicks past Jason Taumalolo of the North Queensland Cowboys during their Qualifying Final game at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015.
Andrew McCullough of the Brisbane Broncos (right) kicks past Jason Taumalolo of the North Queensland Cowboys during their Qualifying Final game at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. AAP Image - Dan Peled

Broncos vs Cowboys game the perfect way to show off our game

IF the NRL hierarchy felt the urge to educate future generations on what was the best of their game in the year 2015, they should preserve Saturday night's qualifying final between the Broncos and Cowboys.

Such was the exemplary quality of the match, played in front of a seething and mostly bipartisan 50,388 crowd, a USB stick placed in a time capsule, buried somewhere within Suncorp Stadium, would be a perfect recap of why our game can be the greatest of them all.

Following the two earlier weekend finals which - dare I say - were boring by comparison, this was an absolute classic.

And it was not a classic by accident.

Respective coaches - the master Wayne Bennett and his pupil Paul Green - abhor the wrestling and grappling tactics that have stealthily crept into the code.

They coach their teams to play fast, and both are believers that while winning might be everything, entertainment remains an integral part of their coaching charter.

And entertain is what both sides delivered on Saturday night.

As echoed by seasoned rep stalwarts Johnathan Thurston, Justin Hodges, Matt Scott and Sam Thaiday, the match was played at break-neck speed and was of Origin intensity.

It was also played in a terrific spirit.

Apart from what was a minor skirmish involving Adam Blair and Thurston late in the match, the behaviour and attitude of the players was exemplary.

And besides Thurston questioning referee Gerard Sutton in the first half on why a Cowboys' try had been disallowed, I don't recall one incident of whingeing or back chat. Official NRL stats from the game also unveiled some incredible details, and further emphasised the courage, fitness and skill of the players.

Combined, the teams ran for just on 3500 metres during the 80 minutes, yet only three line breaks were made and four tries scored. Seventeen players chewed up more than 100m each.

And, of the 754 tackles attempted, a mere 34 were ineffective.

Two of those four tries - to Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt - were a glance into the future, where smart, slick backs will take advantage of fatigued forwards.

The reduced interchange numbers from next season will give us more of that.

And while praising the players and coaches, the referees should not be overlooked.

The call by Gerard Sutton to over-rule his touch judge and declare Thurston on side for the final try of the match underlines why he is far and away the best whistle blower in the game.

The burning question now is whether the Broncos and Cowboys will go the whole hog, and meet again in the grand final?

If they produce that standard again, we can only live in hope.


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