On Friday morning, four teams woke up anxious to play for a spot in the semi finals. Today, only two are preparing for the next battle.
Week Two of finals football is always an epic battle between the two teams at hand. Sudden death for the team who looses, while the winner progresses one step closer to the premiership.
In front of more than 27 000 fans at the SFS on Friday night, the Wests Tigers almost looked definite to win their clash against the New Zealand Warriors. They were in front for the whole game until the last 3 minutes.
Big Keith Galloway put the Tigers on the board early followed by Marshall scoring from his signature side step move. Chris Lawrence’s comeback from injury didn’t go unnoticed as his strength and dominance were prominent in both attack and defence. A momentum swing was heading the Warriors way as Kevin Locke broke through the line leaving Rob Lui clutching air and leading to James Maloney scoring under the posts. However, the signs were still promising for the tigers as they entered the sheds at half time 18-6 up.
However, this Warriors outfit were far from finished. Some clever movement off the bench from coach Cleary meant that the Warriors started the second half with fresh legs.
At 20-18 up, the sea of orange and black in the crowd ended up off their seats, watching the 5 minutes pain-fulling tick down like sand through an hour glass.
With 3 minutes remaining and from Sean Johnson’s perfectly placed cross field kick, as well as help from the fumbling tigers defenders, Krisnan Inu leant over to place the ball over the line. The video referee awarded it a try and sent the small number of Warriors fans in the crowd into a frenzy. A surreal atmosphere engulfed the stadium as the full time siren sounded. Such a harsh way to loose such a vital game, almost as if it was snatched from their grasps after leading for 90% of the game.
Nevertheless, the Warriors showed they are strong finals contenders and deserve their spot in the semi next week. For the Wests Tigers, it has been a fairytale 9 weeks running into the finals. They should be proud of their efforts and look to succeed that bit further in the 2012 season.
The second game had just as much intensity and drama as the first. Yes, finally, it was officially Darren Lockyer’s last game at Suncorp Stadium, and he didn’t disappoint.
A great game of footy played by both the Broncos and the Dragons was depicted in the low scoreline as it was 6-0 going into the break. The Broncos seemed to have the upper hand as they led 12-6 with less than 10 minutes to go and with almost 50 000 fans behind them.
But, this is finals footy we are talking about, no game is finished with until the siren sounds. The Dragons leveled it up at 12-12 meaning we were heading into golden point extra time. Darren Lockyer up against Jamie Soward, who’s boot would it be? Would Lockeyer have the fairytale ending he deserves in a stadium he has spent playing most of his career in and in front of a crowd that worships the ground he walks on?
From 30 metres out, the captain kicked the winning field goal, and the crowd erupted. Personally, watching at home, I got goosebumps and very emotional. It was a moment that will be a part of the games history and will be spoken about for many years to come. For those who witnessed it, it will be a moment we will never forget. The fairytale end to Lockyer’s career at Suncorp Stadium.
The Dragons will not be able to make it back to back premierships, send Mark Gansnier into retirement or farewell their coach the way they would’ve liked to. But, that’s footy. It was Lockyer’s night, and no one was going to take that away from him.
The Broncos will face the Sea Eagles in Sydney on Friday night while the Warriors will have a tough battle down in Melbourne against the Storm on Saturday. However, Lockyer suffered a fractured cheekbone during his sides clash and had three plates inserted into his face when he had surgery this morning. The doctor’s have said it will be Lockyer’s call, whether or not he will be able to play on Friday night.
Will he really choose to miss his potential last game in the NRL? I highly doubt it.