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Cronk drop goal breaks gallant Broncos hearts

Date

Sean Baumgart

Dynamic duo ... Cooper Cronk kicks for Billy Slater.

Dynamic duo ... Cooper Cronk kicks for Billy Slater. Photo: Getty Images

Barely six weeks ago Sam Thaiday rejoiced as Maroons teammate Cooper Cronk put to bed the State of Origin decider with a 75th-minute field goal from 40m.

Last night, the Broncos skipper found out what it’s like to be on the wrong side of the champion halfback’s precision right boot when Cronk iced a 19-18 win for the Melbourne Storm that sent the gallant Broncos to a fifth-straight loss.

Blog: As it happened

Corey Norman gets the ball away.

Corey Norman gets the ball away. Photo: Getty Images

With scores locked at 18-18 after 75 minutes of struggle, likened by Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy to finals football, and the ball on the Broncos’ 20m line, the scene was set for Cronk.

The Storm knew it, the crowd of 41,467 knew it and the Broncos knew it, especially Corey Parker, who cannonballed out of marker and launched headlong in a futile bid to charge down the shot.

Storm skipper Cameron Smith knew it as well. Cronk had told him so as the pair ran back to halfway after Ben Te’o had crashed over in the 71st minute to level the scores for the Broncos.

“He can kick a field goal here, that’s for sure,” he said.

“He’s good at reading a game. He came over and spoke to me when Benny Te’o scored that try. He said ‘mate, get me to halfway and I’m gonna have a shot’.

“He can pull them off. He’s two from two long range at this ground.”

The chapter fits neatly into the ongoing saga that the Bronco-Storm rivalry has become.

The Storm have now won 11 of the past 13 encounters between the two sides, but each instalment has been bitterly contested and Smith said last night’s showdown was reminiscent of the 2008 semi-final between the sides at this very ground.

That night it was Greg Inglis who broke Bronco hearts with a last-minute try to end their season.

If Cronk’s effort last night failed to break Brisbane’s hearts, it surely bruised them.

After surrendering a 14-0 lead against the Canterbury Bulldogs last week, Thaiday was clearly crestfallen after what was for all intents and purposes an excellent night at the office by his charges.

Early tries to Justin Hodges and Te’o sent the home side to a 12-0 lead in a spotless first half from the Broncos that only yielded a 38th-minute try to Sisa Waqa on a contentious video referee decision.

Thaiday said if hard work is to be rewarded, a Broncos turnaround is just around the corner.

“We’re doing everything we can to try and win a game, I think that’s probably the reason why so many blokes were so wrecked after that game,” he said.

“We’ve been close last week and we’ve been close this week, it’s just not good enough at the moment.

“The effort is there and I think that’s what hurts the most because we’re trying our butts off so hard to try and win and it’s just not happening for us at the moment.”

The Broncos now travel to Manly before finishing up the regular season back at Suncorp Stadium.

Thaiday’s Maroons teammate Smith said he too could see a revival that could catapult the Broncos into a formidable opponent come finals time.

“We threw everything at each other early and a team hasn’t really thrown that much at us in the first 40 minutes all year,” he said.

“Never write a Broncos team off, they’re a great football side. I was speaking to Hodgo and Corey Parker and Matt Gillett there at the end and I just said to them that it reminds me of the patch we went through. They didn’t do too much wrong tonight, the Broncos.

“They just need some bounces to go their way. It’s exactly the way we felt when you come off the ground scratching your head and thinking ‘where did we go wrong?"

Broncos coach Anthony Griffin said he could see improvements in his side, even if it wasn’t showing up on the scoreboard.

“I was happy with our general effort, we’re getting a little bit better each week,” he said.

“It’s just frustrating, but we’ll get there. We’ll keep showing up and we’ll get there.”

Cronk’s boot was slicing the Broncos open well before his match-winning field goal. Three minutes after halftime his grubber kick found the goal post and the ball bounced back neatly for him to recover his own kick and score.
Nine minutes later it was his cross-field kick that gave Waqa his second try of the night.

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NQL vs STG 19:301300
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NZW vs MAN 17:30MSS
PEN vs NQL 19:30Pepp
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CBY vs NZW 17:30Westpac Stadium
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CBY vs GCT 15:00ANZ
CBR vs WST 17:30GIO
NQL vs PAR 19:301300
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
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NEW vs MAN 14:00HS
STG vs SYD 16:00AS
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Thu, 28 AprTimes shown AEST
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PAR vs CBY 19:50ANZ
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SYD vs NEW 17:30CCS
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GCT vs MEL 14:00Cbus
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Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN vs NZW 15:00AMI Stadium
MEL vs NQL 17:30SUN
MAN vs BRI 19:30SUN
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GCT vs SYD 19:00Cbus
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Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
WST vs NEW 15:00CSS
NZW vs CBR 17:30Yarrow Stadium
CRO vs MAN 19:30Shark Park
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PEN vs GCT 14:00Pepp
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STG vs NQL 19:30WIN
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CBR vs CBY 16:00GIO
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NEW vs PAR 19:00HS
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CBR vs MAN 19:50GIO
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NZW vs BRI 15:00MSS
NQL vs NEW 17:301300
MEL vs PEN 19:30AAMI
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SYD vs WST 16:00AS
SOU vs GCT 18:30nib Stadium
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CBY vs CRO 19:00ANZ
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BRI vs CBR 19:50SUN
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
WST vs SOU 19:50ANZ
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs NZW 15:00HS
PAR vs GCT 17:30TIO
SYD vs MEL 19:30AS
Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN vs PEN 16:00BO
Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
STG vs CBY 16:00ANZ
CRO vs NQL 19:00Shark Park
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SOU vs PAR 19:50ANZ
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STG vs MEL 19:30WIN
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GCT vs MAN 19:00Cbus
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Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
PEN vs SOU 19:50Pepp
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NEW vs STG 15:00HS
CRO vs NZW 17:30Shark Park
CBY vs BRI 19:30ANZ
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GCT vs CBR 14:00Cbus
MEL vs WST 16:00AAMI
Mon, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
NQL vs MAN 19:001300
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WST vs PEN 17:30ANZ
CRO vs PAR 19:30Shark Park
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SOU vs NQL 16:00Barlow Park
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MAN vs STG 19:00BO
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Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
PAR vs SYD 19:50Pirtek
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CBY vs WST 19:30ANZ
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PEN vs CRO 16:00Pepp
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CBR vs NQL 19:00GIO
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Round 19
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
STG vs GCT 19:50Jubilee Oval
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs NZW 17:30nib Stadium
SOU vs BRI 19:30ANZ
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NEW vs MEL 14:00HS
PEN vs PAR 16:00Pepp
Mon, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CRO 19:00AS
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Round 20
Thu, 21 JulTimes shown AEST
NQL vs CBY 19:501300
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI vs PEN 19:50SUN
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NZW 15:00GIO
GCT vs PAR 17:30Cbus
MEL vs SYD 19:30AAMI
Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CRO vs NEW 14:00Shark Park
STG vs WST 16:00ANZ
Mon, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
SOU vs MAN 19:00ANZ
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Round 21
Wed, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW vs PEN 22:00MSS
Thu, 28 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs BRI 00:00AS
CBY vs STG 00:00ANZ
GCT vs CRO 00:00Cbus
PAR vs WST 00:00ANZ
SOU vs CBR 00:00ANZ
MAN vs NEW 00:00BO
NQL vs MEL 00:001300
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Round 22
Thu, 04 AugTimes shown AEST
STG vs BRI 00:00WIN
PAR vs MAN 00:00Pirtek
CRO vs CBR 00:00Shark Park
NEW vs CBY 00:00HS
MEL vs SOU 00:00AAMI
GCT vs NZW 00:00Cbus
WST vs NQL 00:00VAS
PEN vs SYD 00:00Pepp
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Round 23
Wed, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs SOU 22:00MSS
Thu, 11 AugTimes shown AEST
CBY vs MAN 00:00ANZ
BRI vs PAR 00:00SUN
WST vs GCT 00:00CSS
STG vs CRO 00:00Jubilee Oval
NEW vs PEN 00:00HS
SYD vs NQL 00:00AS
CBR vs MEL 00:00GIO
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Round 24
Thu, 18 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CBY 00:00SUN
SYD vs STG 00:00AS
NEW vs GCT 00:00HS
NQL vs NZW 00:001300
MAN vs MEL 00:00BO
CBR vs PAR 00:00GIO
PEN vs WST 00:00Pepp
SOU vs CRO 00:00ANZ
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Round 25
Wed, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs WST 22:00MSS
Thu, 25 AugTimes shown AEST
CBY vs NQL 00:00Belmore Sports Ground
MEL vs BRI 00:00AAMI
GCT vs PEN 00:00Cbus
MAN vs CBR 00:00BO
CRO vs SYD 00:00Shark Park
NEW vs SOU 00:00HS
PAR vs STG 00:00Pirtek
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Round 26
Wed, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs PAR 22:00MSS
Thu, 01 SepTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 00:00SUN
CBY vs SOU 00:00ANZ
STG vs NEW 00:00Jubilee Oval
NQL vs GCT 00:001300
MEL vs CRO 00:00AAMI
WST vs CBR 00:00VAS
PEN vs MAN 00:00Pepp
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