The North Queensland Cowboys have sent the Broncos packing in the first sudden death match of the 2012 finals series. The Cowboys defeated their Brisbane rivals 33-16 in front of 21,307 at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
A miracle ball from Ashley Graham to Matt Bowen got the Cowboys off to a dream start, with the veteran fullback opening up the scoring in the fifth minute. Johnathan Thurston missed an easy conversion to keep the score at 4-0.
The Broncos were given some good opportunities to hitback over the next passage of play, but struggled to execute.
The Cowboys made the Broncos' pay for their mistakes in the 17th minute when Michael Morgan scored the first of his hat-trick of tries after Josh Hoffman failed to hang onto a Thurston bomb. Thurston added the extras.
Morgan was over for his second in the 34th minute courtesy of a pin-point grubber from Bowen.Thurston added the extras.
The Broncos were under the pump again in the final minutes of the half as they were forced to defend their line for three consecutive sets, but the Brisbane defence held strong.
A 50-metre kick return from Gerard Beale saw the Broncos with an early opportunity in the second half and Corey Norman finished the job, running 45 metres to score the first Broncos' try of the match.
The Cowboys hit back with a penalty kick eight minutes later, before Bowen put Brent Tate away in the 58th minute.
Sam Thaiday got the Broncos back into the match as he was unstoppable close to the line in the 64th minute when he got the Broncos back into the game. Wallace added the extras to close the gap the 14-points.
The Broncos were over again in the 71st minute when Justin Hodges put Dale Copley over in the corner. Wallace failed to convert.
Any hope of a come-from-behind victory for Broncos was crushed only five minutes later when Morgan claimed his hat-trick on the back of a Broncos' mistake. Thurston added the extras.
With less than two minutes left in the match,Bowen kicked a field goal from 22 out to extend the Cowboys' lead.
The Cowboys will head to Allianz Stadium next weekend where they take on the defending premiers the Manly Sea Eagles.
North Queensland Cowboys 33 defeated Brisbane Broncos 16
National Rugby League - Finals Week 1 - Saturday September 8, 2012 7:45pm
Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium
Referee: Matt Cecchin and Gerard Sutton
Video Referee: Paul Simpkins and Chris Ward
Touch Judges: Dave Abood and Luke Potter
Halftime: North Queensland Cowboys 18 Brisbane Broncos 0
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Matt Bowen (1 Try, 1 Field Goal)
2 Points - James Tamou
1 Point - Petero Civoniceva
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (33)
Tries: Brent Tate, Matt Bowen, Michael Morgan (3)
Field Goals: Matt Bowen (1/1)
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (4/5)
Penalty Goals: Johnathan Thurston (2/2)
BRISBANE BRONCOS (16)
Tries: Sam Thaiday, Dale Copley, Corey Norman
Conversions: Peter Wallace (2/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good evening folks and welcome to Dairy Farmers Stadium where the North Queensland Cowboys take on the Brisbane Broncos in the first sudden death match of the 2012 finals.
The winner of tonight's match will take on the Manly Sea Eagles next weekend.
Both teams will go into the match with no late changes.
We have perfect conditions for football at Dairy Farmers' stadium where University has just defeated Centrals 34-10 to take out a Townsville District Rugby League preliminary final.
1 min: James Tamou takes the first hit up of the game as the match gets under way.
2 min: The Broncos are on halfway on tackle three after some strong running from their backs.
2 min: Matt Bowen fails to clean up a bomb from the Broncos but Michael Morgan saves the day and fields the ball in his own in goal before running it back into the field of play.
3 min: Gerard Beale knocks on only 20 metres out from his own line and the Cowboys will have an early attacking opportunity.
6 min: TRY
TRY! The Cowboys spread it out wide to Brent Tate who passes to Ashley Graham who throws a miracle ball back in field as he is being tackled into touch, the pass finds Bowen who scores. Johnathan Thurston misses the conversion.
North Queensland Cowboys 4-0
8 min: Thurston throws a dummy before putting Gavin Cooper into space but Coopers throws a terrible pass and the Broncos gain possession on halfway.
9 min: The Broncos get a tackle count restart 20 out from the Cowboys' line.
10 min: The Broncos receive a penalty 10 out and they will take the tap.
10 min: Jack Reed makes it over the line but Matt Checchin denies the try due to a double movement.
19 min: TRY
TRY! Thurston goes to the air on the last from 35 out from the Broncos' line, Josh Hoffman leaps above the pack but loses the ball. Michael Morgan picks up the scraps and scores. Thurston's conversion attempt is successful.
North Queensland Cowboys 10-0
19 min: The Cowboys receive a penalty 30 out from their own line.
21 min: Thurston forces a line drop out and the Cowboys will get another attacking opportunity.
22 min: Matt Scott loses the ball and the Broncos are off the hook.
25 min: Andrew McCullough kicks a 40/20. His side really needed that.
26 min: Corey Norman throws a terrible pass on the back of the scrum and Brent Tate comes up with the ball and is away.
28 min: PENALTY GOAL
The Cowboys receive a penalty 10 our from the Broncos' line and they opt to go for the two.
North Queensland Cowboys 12-0
29 min: Josh Hoffman is down after landing awkwardly after leaping to take a bomb.
35 min: TRY
TRY! Bowen runs it on the last before putting in a grubber 35 out from the Broncos' line, Morgan gathers up the ball and runs in his second try. Thurston adds the extras.
North Queensland Cowboys 18-0
37 min: McCullough knocks on 40 out from his own line and the Cowboys will go on the attack again.
39 min: The Cowboys get six again 10 metres out after they spread it out wide on the last and Justin Hodges fails to pull off an intercept.
39 min: Beale dives on a loose Cowboys' pass only to knock it on and give the Cowboys another six tackles.
40 min: Hoffman dives on a Thurston grubber a metre out from his line and the Cowboys are finally off the hook.
40 min: The Broncos' ruck the ball from their own half as the hooter sounds.
41 min: Thurston kicks off to get us under way in the second half.
45 min: The Cowboys gain possession on halfway after Thurston plucks a wayward pass out of the air.
45 min: Reed saves the day for the Broncos before Beale finds some space and makes it to halfway before being tackled.
46 min: Norman might have a try here.
47 min: TRY
TRY! Norman gets the Broncos back into the game after beating several defenders to run 45 metres to score. Peter Wallace adds the extras.
North Queensland Cowboys 18-6
50 min: Reed loses the ball on his own 40.
50 min: Tate sends a pass over the sideline and the Broncos are off the hook.
51 min: Beale loses the ball 45 metres out from the Cowboys' line.
54 min: PENALTY GOAL
The Cowboys receive a penalty 10 out from the Broncos' line and opt to go the two.
North Queensland Cowboys 20-6
58 min: TRY
TRY! Bowen finds some space on his own 20 before finding Tate 10 short of halfway who streaks down the field to score. Thurston converts.
North Queensland Cowboys 26-6
60 min: Matt Gillett throws a pass into touch 45 out from his own line and the Cowboys will get a scrum on halfway.
61 min: Morgan is caught with the ball on the last and the Broncos are off the hook.
63 min: The Cowboys are pinned for a forward pass on halfway and the Broncos will get a chance to go on the attack.
66 min: TRY
TRY! The Broncos keep the ball alive and Sam Thaiday muscles his way over the line. Wallace adds the extras.
North Queensland Cowboys 26-12
67 min: Ben Hunt loses the ball a few metres short of halfway.
69 min: Morgan loses the ball a few metres out from the Broncos' line and the Broncos are off the hook.
70 min: The Broncos force a line drop out.
73 min: TRY
TRY! The Broncos spread it out wide through Justin Hodges who throws a clever cut out pass to Dale Copley who scores in the corner to keep the Broncos' alive. Wallace fails to convert from the touchline.
North Queensland Cowboys 26-16
75 min: Beale knocks on 10 out from his own line and the Cowboys will go on the attack.
75 min: Morgan might have his hat-trick!
77 min: TRY
TRY! Morgan gets the green light. Thurston adds the extras.
North Queensland Cowboys 32-16
79 min: FIELD GOAL
Bowen decides to get some field goal practice and kicks a drop goal from 22 out.
North Queensland Cowboys 33-16
80 min: The Cowboys ruck it out of their half as the hooter sounds and that will be all she wrote, the Cowboys defeat the Broncos 33-16.