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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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NRL Season 2014

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MAN 26 vs NQL 21 Report Stats
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STG 14 vs SYD 34 Report Stats
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BRI 26 vs SOU 28 Report Stats
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MAN 54 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
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Round 9
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SYD 30 vs WES 6 Report Stats
NQL 27 vs BRI 14 Report Stats
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NZW 54 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
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PAR 42 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
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SOU 14 vs MEL 27 Report Stats
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PAR 36 vs STG Report Stats
CRO 20 vs WES 22 Report Stats
NQL 42 vs SYD 10 Report Stats
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CAN 20 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
BUL 16 vs NZW 12 Report Stats
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MAN 15 vs NEW 14 Report Stats
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Round 11
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BUL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
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GCT 16 vs NZW 24 Report Stats
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CAN 42 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
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CRO vs SOU 18 Report Stats
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Round 12
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PEN 38 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
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SYD 26 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
NQL 22 vs MEL Report Stats
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NZW 38 vs NEW 18 Report Stats
BRI 36 vs MAN 10 Report Stats
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SOU 29 vs STG 10 Report Stats
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Round 13
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MAN 32 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
PAR 18 vs NQL 16 Report Stats
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GCT 14 vs PEN 36 Report Stats
STG 30 vs CRO Report Stats
SOU 34 vs NZW 18 Report Stats
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NEW 20 vs WES 23 Report Stats
MEL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
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CAN 4 vs BRI 28 Stats
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Round 14
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SOU 32 vs WES 10 Report Stats
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PEN 18 vs STG 14 Report Stats
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BUL 12 vs PAR 22 Report Stats
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GCT 20 vs MEL 24 Report Stats
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Round 15
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CAN 14 vs BUL 22 Report Stats
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NZW 19 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
CRO vs MAN 26 Report Stats
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MEL 46 vs PAR 20 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs STG 19 Report Stats
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NEW 36 vs NQL 28 Report Stats
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Round 16
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MAN 24 vs SYD 16 Report Stats
BRI 22 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
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WES 19 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
NQL 20 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
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NZW 30 vs PEN 20 Report Stats
PAR 10 vs NEW 16 Report Stats
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STG 24 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
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Round 17
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BUL 23 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
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STG 27 vs NQL 24 Report Stats
SYD 28 vs CRO 30 Report Stats
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WES 10 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
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SOU 10 vs GCT 14 Report Stats
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Round 18
Fri, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN 40 vs WES 8 Report Stats
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NZW 48 vs PAR Report Stats
MEL 4 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
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GCT 20 vs CAN 36 Report Stats
CRO 18 vs NEW 31 Report Stats
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PEN 35 vs BRI 34 Report Stats
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Round 19
Fri, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
CRO 18 vs NQL 36 Report Stats
PAR 12 vs SOU 32 Report Stats
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SYD 32 vs PEN 12 Report Stats
MEL 28 vs CAN 14 Report Stats
BRI 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
Sun, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
NEW 8 vs GCT 22 Report Stats
WES 46 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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STG 12 vs MAN 21 Report Stats
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Round 20
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NEW 16 vs SYD 12 Report Stats
BRI 8 vs MEL 30 Stats
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PEN 16 vs CRO 18 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs PAR 24 Stats
BUL 12 vs NQL 20 Report Stats
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NZW 12 vs MAN 22 Report Stats
WES 12 vs STG 28 Stats
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CAN 18 vs SOU 34 Stats
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Round 21
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MAN 16 vs BRI 4 Report Stats
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CRO 12 vs PAR 32 Report Stats
NQL 28 vs GCT 8 Stats
SYD 30 vs STG 22 Stats
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CAN 18 vs NZW 54 Stats
SOU 50 vs NEW 10 Stats
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WES 6 vs MEL 28 Stats
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Round 22
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SOU 23 vs MAN 4 Report Stats
BRI 41 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
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NEW 32 vs MEL 30 Report Stats
NQL 64 vs WES 6 Report Stats
PAR 18 vs CAN 10 Report Stats
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NZW 16 vs CRO 12 Report Stats
STG 4 vs PEN 16 Stats
Mon, 11 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 26 vs GCT 18 Report Stats
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Round 23
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SOU 42 vs BRI 16 Report Stats
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PAR 16 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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CAN 16 vs STG 34 Report Stats
MEL 48 vs CRO 6 Report Stats
WES 4 vs SYD 48 Report Stats
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NEW 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
GCT 12 vs MAN 15 Report Stats
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PEN 23 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
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Round 24
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BUL 30 vs WES 10 Stats
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PAR 22 vs MAN 12 Report Stats
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BRI 48 vs NEW 6 Report Stats
SOU 10 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
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NZW 12 vs SYD 46 Report Stats
CRO 12 vs CAN 22 Stats
STG 34 vs GCT 6 Stats
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PEN 10 vs MEL 24 Stats
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Round 25
Thu, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
BUL 14 vs SOU 21 Stats
Fri, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 30 vs STG 22 Stats
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NEW 42 vs PAR 12 Stats
CAN 27 vs WES 12 Stats
SYD 24 vs MEL 12 Stats
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NZW 42 vs GCT Stats
MAN 26 vs PEN 25 Stats
Mon, 01 SepTimes shown AEST
NQL 20 vs CRO 19 Stats
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Round 26
Thu, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 22 vs SOU 18 Stats
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MEL 22 vs BRI 12 Stats
Sat, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
WES 26 vs CRO 10 Report Stats
CAN 33 vs PAR 20 Stats
NQL 30 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
Sun, 07 SepTimes shown AEST
NEW 40 vs STG 10 Report Stats
GCT 19 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
PEN 22 vs NZW 6 Stats
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Finals Week 1
Fri, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
MAN 24 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
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SYD 18 vs PEN 19 Report Stats
NQL 32 vs BRI 20 Report Stats
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MEL 4 vs BUL 28 Report Stats
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Finals Week 2
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SYD 31 vs NQL 30 Report Stats
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MAN 17 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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Preliminary Finals
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PEN 12 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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Grand Final
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SOU 30 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
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South Sydney 24 15 9 0 224 34
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