Thurston delivers golden points thriller for Cowboys
THIS is no longer the Queensland derby. This is Johnathan Thurston's derby.
The Cowboys' greatest player reprised his 2015 grand-final heroics, snapping another extra-time field goal to break Brisbane's hearts yet again in this magnificent rivalry.
As if Thurston's ruining Brisbane's title dream two years ago wasn't painful enough, he poured salt into the deepest of Bronco wounds at Suncorp Stadium in a 21-20 epic.
The NRL's greatest derby was plunged into extra-time for the fourth time in five contests.
And with the game locked at 20-all, Thurston was the hero once again, landing a 30-metre field goal in the 88th minute to ram home why he is the pre-eminent playmaker of his era.
"When the game is on the line, I wouldn't want any other player in that position," a beaming Cowboys coach Paul Green said.
"Most importantly he wants the ball in his hands.
"I'm so proud of the boys. I don't think I've been involved in a tougher win."
Thurston and Ben Hunt waged a rivetting halfback battle and the Broncos No.7 appeared to have won the contest when he set up two tries to give Brisbane a 14-12 half-time lead.
But when it mattered, Thurston, as always, had nerves of steel, watching Anthony Milford miss two field goals before drawing the dagger and plunging it into Wayne Bennett's soul.
In the process, the Maroons maestro ensured the Cowboys snapped a five-match losing streak at Suncorp.
An enthralled crowd of 47,703 witnessed a demolition derby as a total of six Broncos and Cowboys stars finished sore and sorry on a night of injury carnage at Suncorp.
But the Cowboys' win comes at a heavy cost, with hulk Jason Taumalolo set to be cited by the match-review committee for his brutal 27th-minute shoulder charge on Alex Glenn.
To compound their plight, winger Antonio Winterstein suffered a suspected broken arm, prop Scott Bolton copped a head knock and Matt Scott could face a season-ending knee injury.
The Broncos had their own issues, with winger Jordan Kahu battling a corked thigh and Matt Gillett (concussion) unable to finish.
"That's the tragedy, we didn't deserve to lose," Bennett said.
"I've always been against it (golden point), I hate seeing what happens. Someone has to lose. It's just unfair, the issue is designed more for fans than the teams.
"But I'm not too disappointed, it was outstanding what the guys produced."
Amid the madness and melodrama, Thurston held his nerve, just shading Hunt on a night where the Cowboys ace brought up his 2000th career point.
Like heavyweight boxers slugging it out in the final round, the Queensland pugilists went blow for blow from the outset.
The Broncos were the better team in the first half, claiming a 14-12 half-time, but the second half became a battle of wills.
Incredibly, yet unsurprisingly, we should never have doubted the derby would go into extra-time.
And we should never have doubted that Thurston The Great would be the man to pen the winning script.