Coming at you ... Josh Mansour dives over in the corner for a try. Photo: Getty Images
Hold off on popping the corks for Petero Civoniceva. Despite their best efforts to play themselves out of finals contention in a forgettable first half, the Broncos aren't done for yet.
After six games in a succession where they had come up short, one win was enough to ensure they are alive to play some football in September. A 19-12 victory over Penrith at Suncorp Stadium hasn't exactly put a gun to the head of prospective finals rivals but you have to be in it to win it.
The night was set up to farewell Civoniceva, the ageless and indestructible prop who was playing his final game at the ground no matter the result. Brisbane will meet the Cowboys, Manly or the Sharks next week and all three potential dates are on the road.
Leading the way ... Petero Civoneciva charges at the Panthers. Photo: Getty Images
After the game, thousands of fans flooded onto the field to pay their respects to the giant prop, who went from Brisbane to Penrith and back again.
In hindsight, there's little doubt he'll remember that scene as one of the fondest of his career. But after the game, in a slightly stilted press conference where Anthony Griffin wanted to focus on Civoniceva but Civoniceva wanted to focus on the finals, there was the distinct feeling both men were just happy to be able to front up on Monday.
Griffin admitted he was worried the pressure of delivering a win for Civoniceva – and in turn a place in the finals – would be too much for his young side and for the first half, his fears played out.
It wasn't until Peter Wallace scored five minutes after the break that Brisbane shook themselves into life and put away a Panthers side that looked every inch capable of springing an upset that would have left the Broncos hanging by a sinew.
“I did (worry), because I know just how hard they've been working and how desperate they are as a group to try and get things right,” Griffin said.
“It's been tough. We got ourselves into a bit of a twist and it's hard getting yourselves out of it. One thing they showed tonight – and no disrespect for Penrith – but our guys refused to lose and had a ton of fight in them.
“Eventually, we got it right. You just felt early in the game they were just a little bit lost. But we kept ourselves in the game defensively and in the end we clicked a bit, which was nice.”
Civoniceva is usually one of the most erudite men in the game but was all business after the match. His final game is yet to come, meaning he preferred to spare the sentiment. All he knows is that he is back to work on Monday morning with another job to do.
“We're enjoying the moment now. We've got a week in front of us to prepare. We'll get in on Monday and be ready to go. It's the start of a new competition now,” Civoniceva said.
“That wasn't my focus. We knew we had to turn up here in the right frame of mind and turn up here for this win. It's very humbling, the crowd support, but my thoughts are about this team and where we're heading next week.
“It's been a tough few weeks for us, no doubt. We had to show some resolve and stay strong there. We knew the Panthers were going to come to play. We had to find a way. And we did.”
Brisbane emerged with a clean bill of health for their sudden-death final and were treated to a visit from NBA star Patty Mills in the rooms after the game. The mood was vibrant but the reality is they need a significant rise in performance if they are to be the kind of finals threat Griffin hopes.