The Broncos, with good reason, might still be wondering how they let the Grand Final slip away.
With three and a half minutes remaining — and the Cowboys playing out what should’ve been their second last full set of six — Ben Hunt committed the lifting tackle that gave the Cowboys the ball, territory and momentum. More than that, it gave them hope.
And that can be a serious mistake.
It was a sad end to the season for a player who had done so well throughout the year. His Captain, Justin Hodges, summed it up well: “If it hadn’t been for Ben we wouldn’t have been in the Grand Final.”
Johnathan Thurston (as usual) also hit the right chord by going straight to Hunt after fulltime, telling him to keep his head high. It was a wonderful act of sportsmanship displaying both empathy and compassion. JT has emerged as a giant of the game in all ways and, even though it seemed unlikely, you always sensed that events might conspire to give him the premiership that caps one of the best of all careers.
It was once said of David Campese, but is certainly true of Thurston as well, that “talent does what it can, genius does what it must”. At the presentation Johnathan took advantage of a perfect opportunity to push the political leaders present to honour their commitment for a new stadium in central Townsville. Both Malcolm Turnbull and Annastasia Palaszczuk will be acutely aware of the electoral importance of the area in the next state and federal elections and will cross JT at their peril.
The stadium is not only deserved — but needed. Architects and planners should get ready. Wayne Bennett’s comments about the unfairness of Golden Point were consistent with his well known and long held beliefs but it was unfortunate that they should be aired again after such a classic game. The coach was in no way seeking to make excuses but the tone was wrong— as was the timing.
On the issue itself opinion is divided. GoldenPoint is an arbitrary and unsatisfactory way to decide a winner but the alternatives are limited. Whilst it might be OK for staff and players to get together again for a replay (Wayne’s preference), that option hardly does justice to those who had travelled long distances at some expense to acknowledge the premiers. Most would be unable to get back again the following week.
Winston Churchill once famously said that democracy was the worst system in the world, except for all the others! Perhaps it’s true as wellfor Golden Point.
10 minutes each way extra time before golden point is impractical for TV reasons during the regular season but might be better in the finals.
Justin Hodges again nailed it, however: “Maybe we should never have let it get to golden point in the first place.”