2010 NRL Round 1 – Broncos & Dragons Win Friday Night Footy

It was down to the wire in both opening matches of the NRL Telstra Premiership for 2010 with the first game of the year seeing the baby-faced Brisbane Broncos rope in the North Queensland Cowboys, and in the following match, St. George Illawarra Dragons defeated last season’s runners-up, the Parramatta Eels.


If the first two Friday night footy matches were any indication of the level of competitiveness and intensity we are to see in the NRL for 2010, then League fans across Australia are in for one of the best seasons in history.


Match 1: Brisbane Broncos 30 – North Queensland Cowboys 24


At their home ground at Suncorp Stadium in front of a 49, 000 strong crowd that included Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, a reinvented Brisbane scored a win in the first derby match of the year.


With a score of 21 year old and younger players, a number making their first-grade debut in sensational style, Brisbane dominated the first 40 minutes of footy with their smart plays and by preventing offloads from the Cowboys, leaving a listless North Queensland weeping over a 20 – nil scoreboard at half-time.


During the first-half the Cowboys were sloppy with the ball when it was in their possession, but there were some good performances including Willy Tonga’s game down the left-hand side.


But it was Broncos rookie half-back Corey Norman, filling Karmichael Hunt’s number one jersey, who stole the first half of the show and the hearts of Brisbane fans in a dream debut.


Eighteen-year-old Norman gave the last pass for the Broncos two opening trys and played an excellent defensive game too, stopping three from the Cowboys while he was at it. 


In the 19th minute of the game, Norman supplied centre Israel Folau with the final pass that allowed the Broncos to score the first try of 2010.


Darren Lockyer scored Brisbane’s second try of the game giving them a 12 – 0 lead before back-rower Matt Gillett charged over the Cowboys line again in the 28th minute.


In an amazing come-back the Cowboys charged onto the field in the second half with a new found focus and scored four tries, with the mighty Thurston converting them all, bringing the score up to a nail-biting 24 all.


The Cowboys, re-energized, made the most of a few small errors made by some of the young players in the Broncos.


It was actually a mistake by Norman that allowed the Cowboys to score their first points.


With 25 minutes to go Ty Williams scored the first try for the Cowboys, the 79th try of his career putting North Queensland on the board.


Ashley Graham scored the second try for North Queensland 60 minutes into the game, off a kick again.


Once they got their energy back, Jonathan Thurston displayed pinpoint accuracy with his kicking game, putting the Cowboys right back into the match.


In the last 20 minutes of game one for 2010, the Cowboys picked up their defense and Willie Tonga scored their third try in the 65th minute, shortening the margin between them and their rivals to just six points – a converted try.


The top player by a mile was Thurston and he proved he was worth paying the big bucks when he scored the fourth try for North Queensland, converting his own try to tie the game in the 70th minute.


It was a remarkable turnaround from the Cowboys, who seemed like a totally different team from their first half game as they came from 20 nil to 24 all in the 70th minute.


With little time left on the clock North Queensland were given the chance to win the game but missed the opportunity.


Then, Brisbane winger Denan Kemp was passed the ball by skipper Darren Lockyer and ran an amazing 50m sprint down the left touchline to score for the Broncos in the last five minutes of the game; the conversion from the sideline by Parker bought the score to 30 – 24 in favour of Brisbane.


The final score was Brisbane 30, North Queensland 24.


Match 2: St. George Illawarra Dragons 18 – Parramatta Eels 12


In the second NRL game for 2010 it was again just a six point margin separating the two teams at the end of the match, with last season’s minor premiers, the Dragons, claiming revenge against the Eels at Parramatta Stadium in front of an 18, 000 plus crowd.


The Eels, installed as early favourites to win the 2010 Premiership at $6.50 with Ladbrokes.com.au, were given a rude awakening by the Dragons when defeated 12 – 18 last night.

Six minutes into the game, Dragons captain Ben Hornby scored the try to open what looks to be an impressive season for St. George Illawarra.


They extended their lead the 22nd minute when Jeremy Smith put down another try and Jamie Soward converted it again.


Less than five minutes later the Eels fought back with Eric Grothe putting the first points for Parramatta on the board.


The Dragons went into the half-time break as the deserved leaders, 12 – 6.


The rest of the game, despite a solid comeback from the Eels, the Dragons remained professional and unwavering as they sought revenge against the team that helped to knock them out of contention for last year’s premiership.


In the second-half the Dragons twice opted not to take six more tackles, instead giving the ball to Jamie Soward who kicked two penalties in the 52nd and 60th minutes so St. George Illawarra sat in front 16 – 6.


Three minutes after Soward kicked his second penalty goal, the genius Jarryd Hanye served Luke Burt a skillful cut-out that allowed him to score a second try for the Dragons firing up the thousands of Eels fans in the stadium.


The Eels looked back in the game as the scoreboard read 16 – 12 with 17 minutes left to play, after Burt converted his own try from the sideline.


But it was too late for the Premiership favourites who were served the final blow a few minutes later when Nathan Cayless lost the ball from the kick-off after a massive hit by Dan Hunt and Jarrod Saffy.


A controversial penalty against Fuifui Moimoi for stripping the ball from Michael Weyman gave the Dragons what they needed and Soward kicked his third penalty of the night with five minutes left on the board.


The final score was St. George Illawarra 18 – Parramatta 12, with the Dragons boasting some impressive first match statistics including a 94% completion rate.