Cynics may suggest there’s even more at stake tonight for Des Hasler and the Canterbury Bulldogs, but Throwback Thursday is taking you back to the biggest match the heavyweight clubs have played at ANZ Stadium – the 2006 preliminary final.
Brisbane snared the first grand final berth with one of the great finals comebacks, recovering from a seemingly hopeless 20-6 scoreline at the break after conceding three first half tries to prevail 37-20.
The Broncos’ second half performance was destined to go down in the annals of finals history, and left the shell-shocked Bulldogs reeling.
The onslaught began when stand-in fullback Justin Hodges carried the ball off his own line and embarked on a sizzling 40-metre run. He found the support of hooker Shaun Berrigan, who sprinted all the way to the corner, spectacularly planting the ball despite the desperate attention of Bulldogs giant Willie Mason.
The phenomenal 45th-minute effort rattled the Dogs and energised the Broncos. From that point, the momentum swing was irreversible.
A determined try to Dane Carlaw and brilliant support play resulting in a four-pointer to Darius Boyd saw the Broncos hit the lead 22-20 with a quarter of the match remaining.
Skipper Darren Lockyer characteristically took control from then on, combining with Tonie Carroll to score a try that covered 50 metres, before setting up Brent Tate for a touchdown, and finally slotting a field goal to wrap the game up at 33-20. Corey Parker completed the 31-0 second half rout with a last-minute try, icing one of the finest fight-backs ever seen in September football.