ON an ill-tempered night when even someone watching in the Cook Islands was placed on report, Brisbane captain Sam Thaiday admitted what we all suspected about arguing with referees: it's usually just a delaying tactic.
Referee Ben Cummins told NRL ground managers he had been abused by Warriors trainers as the visitors scored two tries to one but still lost 10-8, keeping the Broncos in the top four on the back of second rower Corey Parker's goal-kicking.
Cummins told cohort Chris James: "Kevin Iro and that bloke in yellow just gave us a gobful" before referring the incident to the ground manager at half-time. Kevin Iro is the man who runs rugby league in the Cook Islands but his brother Tony, the Warriors trainer, told the Herald: "I didn't say anything to him. I don't know if he heard the players or me barking at the players but I didn't say anything to him."
Iro attempted to clear up the affair with James, who told him "Ben heard it".
The defeat left Warriors coach Brian McClennan almost monosyllabic afterwards. "We scored two to their one, so at least we were good in that department."
Thaiday also received a dressing down from the Cummins, who complained: "You've got about six captains out here at the moment, I'm not going to put up with it."
But when the Brisbane captain - who received a sickening accidental blow to the jaw from Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei in the second half, - was asked about the exchanges with the match officials, he conceded with a smile: "You're just asking questions half of the time.
"You know they're not going to change their decision or anything like that. You're just really doing the best for your team to get a few seconds so they can can get a breather really."
Despite the persistent rain, this was a match with almost Origin intensity and a thrilling finish. As the siren sounded, Vatuvei was headed for the corner with only Brisbane fullback Josh Hoffman to beat. Hoffman took him down - but the ball stayed alive long enough for five-eighth James Maloney to kick to the south-eastern corner where he had three team-mates bearing down on Brisbane's Gerard Beale.
But Beale scooped it dead to end the contest. No doubt McClennan's dark mood was inspired by Maloney's three missed goals including a penalty in front shortly before halftime. The Warriors also failed to take advantage of the absence of winger Dale Copley, off 21 minutes with a suspected broken bone in his leg.
Brisbane scored in the seventh minute - Corey Norman from his own kick - and were held out for the rest of the contest but still managed their 11th win of the season. The Warriors tries came in the 10th minute via Kevin Locke following a line dropout and the 35th from Vatuvei after Nathan Friend performed a rare double runaround.
Friend and opposite number Andrew McCullough staged an Herculean battle, each topping 40 tackles comfortably. Broncos coach Anthony Griffin pointed to the two-point loss to Manly, in which Parker missed all four of his attempts at goal, as proof that good things come to those who wait.
Maloney and McClennan are no doubt hoping karma turns for them in a similar way. The coach would not comment on the holding down penalties which led to the two Parker penalty goals, saying only that he would review video of the match.
Thaiday was off for 16 minutes in the second half receiving attention. "I was a bit dazed there - he's a big human," the Queensland forward said. "But that's what it took tonight."
Broncos coach Anthony Griffin insisted he was not looking at the table or taking into account the changes to the McIntyre system - despite the importance of victory last night in terms of the table. ''The stakes are getting higher," he admitted. "We're getting close to the end." He said veteran Petero Civoniceva was ''warming up like an old bus''.
BRISBANE 10 (C Norman try C Parker 3 goals) bt WARRIORS 8 (K Locke M Vatuvei tries) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Ben Cummins, Chris James. Crowd: 32,148.