Last year, it was the AFL’s Western Bulldog that provided the fairy tale season ender, coming from seventh to win the premiership.
No such Cinderella story this year, as the AFL Grand Final will feature the top seed Adelaide Crows against the number three Richmond Tigers, so form more or less held.
The Telstra 2017 NRL Premiership competition is where the improbable story emanates this year, as the number eight North Queensland Cowboys, in what was arguably the best final of the bunch, beat the Sydney Roosters to play their way into the NRL Grand Final against the Melbourne Storm on Sunday, October 1 at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
It is the exact scenario we were glad to escape with the AFL Grand Final, where two teams from other states played the decider at the MCG. The Cows’ barn is in Brisbane, while the Storm shelter is in Melbourne, so only the true rugby fans may have any interest in what, on paper at least, seems to be a match scripted by minds with G.O.T. imaginations.
The Cows beat the Chooks in the affair of the barnyard 29 – 16 at Sydney Football Stadium, so it will be one versus eight for summer-long NRL bragging rights.
The game was one of those ones that makes sitting through all the snoozers worthwhile, as the action was continuous and the lead changed hand three times in the second half.
Michael Morgan was clutch for the Cowboys, beginning his dominance in the sixth minute, with a 40/20 and a kicking game that pinned the Roosters in their own half.
North Queensland conducted an exercise in ball control that at one point denied the Chooks any touches for almost eight minutes.
The Cowboys made the most of a two penalty goals to nil advantage and were perfect on four conversions, while Sydney let one get away from them.
A Morgan field goal in the dying minutes and a Scott Bolton try, when the game was already decided, concluded the scoring.