Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Last night the Queensland rugby league jig saw puzzle was completed when the Brisbane Diehards took to the cherished field of Lang Park to do battle with their cross town rivals the Brisbane Broncos in what has been dubbed ?The Battle of Brisbane?.
After a seven year period of campaigning and planning that had more plot twists and turns than a Hollywood thriller, the group behind the Diehards can not only rejoice in having their team officially part of the NRL but they can delight in their devastating debut in which they disposed of the Brisbane Broncos.
52,223 rabid Queenslanders were on hand to witness the historic occasion and certainly none of them ever dreamt we?d witness such a passionate local derby in Brisbane. The Diehards supporters certainly showed long memories with large sections of their crowd chanting ?Super scum!? in reference to the Broncos involvement with the Super League war.
It was the Diehards who opened scoring on their special day with winger Andrew Brown scoring off a mesmerising pass by Tim Smith which sent half the stadium into raptures. But the joy of the men from the valley was short lived with the Broncos bouncing back with three unanswered tries by Leon Bott and a double for Karmichael Hunt. It seemed like business as usual for the Broncos who had hit their rhythm. The Diehards were further rattled when their skipper Tim Smith was taken from the field with a suspected ankle injury.
Broncos captain Brett Seymour bravely ignored injury to lead his troops to a 18-6 lead at half time. The status quo remained well into the second half until the 57th minute, when the two opposing packs set for a scrum the Diehards incited the Broncos pack by yelling ?Diehards! Diehards!? coupled with some other assorted colourful phrases. The Broncos pack took exception and broke ranks and it was on for young and old.
People just tuning into the match would be forgiven for thinking they were watching an Origin match. This sort of tribalism hasn?t been seen in Brisbane for decades and was thought to be long dead.
The incident rattled the Broncos and the Diehards came back into the match with their renowned diehard spirit. Broncos coach Kevin Walters would be lamenting the loss of discipline from the Broncos, watching his team take the bait before his eyes.
The Diehards scored soon after. Nothing the Broncos could muster could have stopped towering prop Shane Wilson from steamrolling over Karmichael Hunt and scoring underneath the posts.
Diehards halfback Tim Smith returned to the field and wasted no time orchestrating the next try for the Diehards with a freakish kick with Billy Slater touching down.
With the scores locked at 18 all the Broncos and Diehards entered into a field goal frenzy with five attempts made but it was State of Origin hero Tim Smith who once again came up with the big play dummying his way to the line to seal the game for the Brisbane Diehards.
The scenes on the on the field, the sidelines and the stands eclipsed anything seen in resent history at the famous ground.
?This is the best day of my life! This is the realisation of an impossible dream made reality. It has made so many people happy and will make so many people happy in the future. I am so proud of this club, I never gave up on it and we brought it back to the big time where it always belonged!? said a jubilant Kenneth Bradman, a noted eccentric businessman who was a spearhead of the new Brisbane consortium.
Gold Coast Titans chief executive Michael Searle was on hand to support the maiden match of the new team.
?This is a historic day for Queensland rugby league! Bringing back such a famous and successful club was a masterstroke by the franchise. I know first hand how difficult it is to establish a new team and in one foul swoop they got instant passion, instant history and instant support. I?m looking forward to welcoming them to the Gold Coast, which I understand is already a full house.? Said Searle,
?I don?t know what I?m more excited about. What just happened or what is going to happen!? said Diehards captain and man of the match Tim Smith.
Finally everything is as it should be in sunny Queensland. The Diehards have proven that after nearly two decades of non existance they truly die hard.
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