The victory to the Broncos was made all the more comprehensive considering they were without skipper Darren Lockyer, the star five eighth pulling out with a knee injury to join fullback Karmichael Hunt (quad) in the stands.
Played in front of a record crowd of 50,612, the match looked to have all the hallmarks of close forward encounter. The first tackle saw Broncos prop Ben Hannant knocked flat following a heavy clash with Cowboys forward Ray Cashmere. But the Broncos forward had the last laugh, recovering well to defend strongly and back up to score the opening try.
The Cowboys were first to score with a penalty goal after just seven minutes of play. The Broncos replied with a penalty goal in the 18th minute.
With 10 minutes to go before half time, and the scoreline locked up at 2-all, the match looked to be in the balance. But the Broncos ran in three tries in seven minutes just to grab an 18-2 lead and take a strangle-hold on the match.
Brisbane extended their lead to 24-2 early in the second half. The score remained unchanged until the 66th minute, the Broncos ultimately backing up a tremendous defensive display to run in two more tries and blow away any chance of a Cowboys revival.
The Cowboys have now conceded 102 points in just three games, placing added pressure on coach Graham Murray.
Match Details Round 3 - March 28th, 2008 8:30pm Venue: Suncorp Stadium Referee: Ben Cummins Crowd: 50,612
Brisbane Broncos 36 Tries: Ben Hannant, PJ Marsh, Darius Boyd, Reece Robinson, Steve Michaels, Michael Ennis Goals: Peter Wallace (3/4), Michael Ennis (3/3) North Queensland Cowboys 2 Goals: Johnathan Thurston (1/1)
Live Commentary Huge crowd at Lang Park with the Broncos looking to out-pace the Cowboys in Brisbane tonight. Big news is that Broncos five-eighth Darren Lockyer has been ruled out with injury. He joins fullback Karmichael Hunt on the sidelines. Usually a backrower, David Stagg has moved to replace Lockyer at pivot. A little bit of shuffling for the Cowboys in the forwards and on the bench, but they are pretty much as per the card. Players getting ready to come onto the field... slight delay while gate keepers try and get the last of the crowd in. Johnathan Thurston in 100th first grade game leads the Cowboys onto the field. Broncos coming out now... big cheer! Broncos to kick off... KICK OFF!
12 seconds: A huge clash of the forwards in the first tackle see Broncos forward Ben Hannant flattened. He looks pretty crook but is staying out there.
9 min: From the restart Ben Hannant shows that he has recovered from the earlier knock with a 'payback' hit on Ray Cashmere. Big defence from the Broncos earns them possession in good position.
15 min: Still 2-0 to the Cowboys. Some committed defence from both sides in a very physical encounter.
25 min: A strong attacking raid from the Broncos. Cowboys have had their chances as well and counter attack immediately afterwards. But the Broncos, with a little less possession, are looking to gain the acendancy after finding some gaps around the fringes. Ben Hannant tackling up a storm.
29 min: ON REPORT - Travis Burns (Cowboys) on report for a lifting tackle on Denan Kemp.
31 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos Front rower Ben Hannant scores behind the uprighst following cross field bomb from Wallace. The ball is spilled backwards in the scramble and Hannant dives on it to grab the points. Conversion attempt by Peter Wallace successful. Brisbane Broncos 8-2
34 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos PJ Marsh scores 12m wide of the goal posts. Follows a run from 30m from lock forward Tonie Carroll who then puts the ball to toe and soccer infields to Marsh who does well to scoop it up and finish over the defence. Conversion attempt by Peter Wallace successful. Brisbane Broncos 14-2
38 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos Darius Boyd scores 15m wide of the posts after Wallace is given plenty of room fro 10m out to pass to Boyd who in turns shrugs off some very ordinary defence. Conversion attempt by Peter Wallace unsuccessful. Brisbane Broncos 18-2
Half time: Broncos 18-2 Following a close and physical tussle for the opening minutes, the Broncos steadied the ship going to get on top before the Cowboys simply dropped their heads and almost capitulated in the latter stages of the first half. Standouts are halfback Wallace and prop Hannant who has struck back with some sensational work after looking concussed in the opening minute. Hooker PJ Marsh has also backed up well in both defence and attack. Broncos look the goods, Cowboys with all the work to do.
Second half underway...
47 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos Winger Reece Robinson scores in the corner after the Broncos keep the ball alive in the 10m zone. Follows a Cowboys raid in a previous set which was repelled by the Broncos. Conversion attempt by Michael Ennis successful. Brisbane Broncos 24-2
55 min: Broncos now with a repeat set after the game seemed to settle into and end-to-end battle. Cowboys ray Cashmere received treatment for dislocated finger.
57 min: NO TRY - Steve Michaels denied in the corner for the Broncos, going into touch in-goal. 20m restart to the Cowboys.
60 min: Cowboys will get a repeat set from a clever grubber from backrower Sione Faumuina. Great defence from the Broncos, but Cowboys with another chance to crack the line... ...last tackle, Bowen's pass to his winger goes too high, brushes the finger tips, and into touch. Its just not the Cowboys' night.
62 min: Cowboys get yet another set following a Broncos error, but the Broncos again defend well close to the line. A Cowboys forward pass brings a premature end to the set.
66 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos Michaels spins through ordinary defence close to the line and is able to improve his position for the conversion. Broncos taking full advantage of their opportunities down the Cowboys' end of the field. Conversion attempt by Michael Ennis successful. Brisbane Broncos 30-2
69 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos A 70m try. Ennis scores under the posts following a bust from Justin Hodges on his own side of half way, Ennis backing up to run the last 40m. Its a carve up! Conversion attempt by Michael Ennis successful. Brisbane Broncos 36-2
69 min: INJURY - Matt Scott (Cowboys) of with an ankle injury and will no take no further part.
CROWD - 50,612 - Ground record.
74 min: INJURY - PJ Marsh walks off after being winded in a tackle. Replaced by Tonie Carroll. Final interchange of the night for the Broncos.
79 min: Broncos attack out wide but just held out by the Cowboys.
Full time: Broncos 36-2 The Broncos have made it three wins from three starts in front of a record home crowd, scoring a convincing win without Lockyer or Hunt. The Cowboys are zero from three. Coach Graham Murray's odds to be the first NRL coach to be removed in 2008 must have shortened considerably.