Josh McGuire of the Broncos is grounded by Cowboys Jason Taumalolo, left, and Jake Granville, right
Josh McGuire of the Broncos is grounded by Cowboys Jason Taumalolo, left, and Jake Granville, right MICHAEL CHAMBERS

Injuries take shine off Brisbane Broncos win

INJURIES to Darius Boyd and Tevita Pangai Junior could impact Brisbane's finals campaign, as they put the Cowboys on the brink of elimination with a resilient 20-10 win.

Broncos skipper Boyd hurt his hamstring as he scrambled to cover a kick on the last play of the first half, with x-factor bench forward Pangai Junior picking up a similar injury in the second half.

The body count looked like rising to three when Alex Glenn was helped off holding his neck following an awkward tackle midway through the second half but the second-rower came back to finish the game after passing a HIA.

While the injuries gave Wayne Bennett some headaches the Broncos were equal to them, with a half-time reshuffle that brought Benji Marshall onto the field effective enough to get the visitors home.

Moving into the halves, Marshall once again showed his worth, releasing makeshift fullback Nikorima down the field with a beautiful inside pass and putting in some nice kicks to relieve pressure when his side was under the pump.

The Broncos were forced to soak up plenty of second half pressure on the back of a lopsided penalty count and some clever last tackle plays from Michael Morgan and Ben Hampton.

However, try as they might, the Cowboys were unable to crack a Brisbane wall that leaked 52 points against the Eels just a week ago until an 80th minute try that may yet salvage their playoff hopes.

After a deflected kick gave them six again, a Morgan cut out ball to his right winger Kyle Feldt cut the full-time deficit to 10, putting them on the same points differential as Manly.

It's enough to guarantee the Cowboys an elimination final should the Sea Eagles lose to the Panthers on Saturday.

Kyle Feldt of the Cowboys makes his way around Kodi Nikorima of the Broncos
Kyle Feldt of the Cowboys makes his way around Kodi Nikorima of the Broncos MICHAEL CHAMBERS

But if Manly and the Dragons both win, the Cowboys will more than likely be out, with Penrith boasting a much better for and against.

With St George Illawarra playing the Bulldogs on Sunday, it's possible North Queensland will have a three day wait before they learn their fate.

Not so the Broncos, who are guaranteed to finish either third or second and can start preparing for a likely trip to Sydney to face the Roosters in week one.

Going into that game, it will be the massive turnaround in defence that will no doubt please Bennett most, however he won't be confident of a repeat effort if he has to select a side without his skipper for a big qualifying final next week.

Ben Hunt of the Broncos gets a pass away
Ben Hunt of the Broncos gets a pass away MICHAEL CHAMBERS

Forced to run back to cover a surprise Morgan kick early in the tackle count, Boyd pulled up sharply and grabbed the back of his leg just before diving on the ball to bring the first half to a close.

He cut an agitated figure watching the second half from the bench, with his leg outstretched and wrapped with ice.

From the moment he went off the Cowboys grew another leg, with Morgan the architect as they surged forward in an effort to salvage their season.

For the first 11 minutes of the second half they peppered the Broncos' line, with Morgan and Hampton both forcing drop outs and some Brisbane handling errors gifting extra sets.

As much as the home side pressed, the Broncos were able to maintain their composure and mostly looked comfortable absorbing pressure and repelling their opponents' best efforts.

 

Lachlan Coote of the Cowboys gets a pass away to team mate Javid Bowen
Lachlan Coote of the Cowboys gets a pass away to team mate Javid Bowen MICHAEL CHAMBERS

At the end of three straight sets of attack, Morgan went short to dangerous hole runner Gavin Cooper, who couldn't handle the pass, finally letting the Broncos off the hook.

It was the second half's biggest turning point and 10 minutes later the result was all but sealed when Adam Blair got off the nudie run with his first try of the season, crashing over the tryline off a short ball from dummy half.

Jordan Kahu's conversion pushed the score out to 20-6 with 18 minutes to play, and while the Cowboys never gave up hope, they left it to the very last minute to hit back.

Most of the damage was done in a frenetic 13-minute period of the first half, with brilliance from Anthony Milford and Nikorima breaking the contest open.

First it was Milford who picked up his own short kick and muscled his way through a tackle before linking with James Roberts who drew the last man and threw a beautiful flick pass for Matt Gillett to score.

Then it was Nikorima whose footwork and chip over the top set up a try for Roberts, with the Broncos running rampant down their right edge.

The third try in succession really blew the scoreline open, with a Nikorima kick once again doing the damage, as he sat the ball on the head of Antonio Winterstein, with Jordan Kahu outleaping his opposite man to push the score out to 14-0 in the 27th minute.

News Corp Australia

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