Throwback Thursday: Cool Cronk sinks Broncos
A fast start. A famous comeback. A thrilling finish.
Round 24, 2012 was the scene of another memorable installment to the Storm-Broncos rivalry.
The Broncos went into the game desperate for a win after entering a late-season slide that saw them lose their last four games in a row.
Melbourne on the other hand had just emerged out of their own form slump. The rugby league world had written Craig Bellamy’s side off after they went on a five-game losing streak during the Origin period.
However wins over the Panthers and Titans had steadied the ship as Melbourne ventured to Suncorp Stadium still in second spot on the NRL ladder, with a win all but assuring them of a top four finish.
A crowd of 41,467 turned out on a Friday night to see these two premiership contenders go head-to-head.
It was the Broncos faithful who spent much of the opening 20 minutes on their feet as their side burst out of the blocks.
First Justin Hodges found his way over in the sixth minute before Ben Te’o followed shortly after. Peter Wallace converted both tries to give Brisbane a 12-0 lead after just 15 minutes played.
However this was a Melbourne team that refused to push the panic button.
First they halted the home side’s momentum, then they proceeded to gain control of the football.
Storm’s patience finally paid off in the shadows of half-time when Sisa Waqa scored to cut the deficit to six.
That chance came off the boot of Cooper Cronk and the star halfback scored Storm’s second with an opportunistic solo-effort soon after half-time.
Cronk put in a grubber kick that hit the right post but he followed up his effort to collect the rebound and level the scores.
By the time the 50th minute arrived Storm had moved into the lead with another Cronk kick again finding Waqa out wide.
Staring down the barrel of another worrying defeat it was no surprise the Broncos refused to go quietly.
The game was soon set up for a tense finish when Te’o made things all square once again after gathering Ben Hunt pass to bulldoze over in the 71st minute.
With scores locked at 18-all it set things up for a finish that was eerily similar to the 2012 State of Origin decider in Brisbane only a month earlier.
That night Cronk was the toast of the Suncorp crowd but this time he would step up to break their hearts.
The halfback cooly stepped up to do what he had done so many times before, slotting a 25m field goal to complete the comeback and hand Storm a win by the narrowest of margins.
The victory was apart of an eight-game winning streak for Storm that culminated in winning the 2012 premiership.
Melbourne Storm 19
Tries: Sisa Waqa 2, Cooper Cronk
Goals: Cameron Smith 3
Field Goal: Cooper Cronk
Brisbane Broncos 18
Tries: Ben Te’o 2, Justin Hodges
Goals: Peter Wallace 3