Reece Walsh has run riot at fullback on his club debut for Brisbane to inspire a 28-16 win over North Queensland, on a night where Broncos winger Corey Oates broke his jaw.
The 20-year-old Walsh showcased why coach Kevin Walters was so keen to bring him back to the club, having a hand in three tries in the space of 10 minutes either side of halftime. He sealed the deal for the home side with a 76th-minute try to cap a magic Friday night.
His scintillating speed, in combination with the electric No.6 Ezra Mam, was too much for the Cowboys to handle at Suncorp Stadium in front of 43,162 supporters.
North Queensland will wait nervously for the match review committee findings with centre Peta Hiku on report for a dangerous tackle on Walsh and fullback Scott Drinkwater for a high shot on Oates when he was denied a try just after halftime.
Oates left the field clutching his jaw, Drinkwater was sin-binned and Walsh broke a 10-all deadlock with an instinctive left-foot kick for Kotoni Staggs in the 44th minute.
Walsh blitzed the Cowboys again five minutes later, Mam finishing it for his second try and the hosts never looked back.
Brisbane were defensively gallant with Walsh and Mam both impressing on that front. Their attack was next level. Walsh terrorised North Queensland’s right edge and Mam, who scored a double, took a mile when given an inch.
The Cowboys set up a thrilling finish when second-rower Jeremiah Nanai chased a Chad Townsend kick, but Walsh had the final say.
There were six matches in a row between the two clubs from 2015-2017 that were decided by six points or less, including the 2015 grand final won 17-16 by North Queensland.
The match had a similar feel about it from the get-go but it was the Broncos that had the X-factor in attack to make the difference.
The sides were locked at 10-all at the break after both experienced halfbacks shone. Brisbane skipper Adam Reynolds had grubbered for Kurt Capewell to score after Cowboys co-captain Townsend sent rampaging Nanai over.
Walsh got outside the visitors’ right edge defence and then a superb in-field kick by Oates got Mam over in the 39th minute. It was a portent of what was to come.
Broncos prop Martin Taupau was also put on report for a hip-drop tackle on Jamayne Taunoa-Brown.
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Source by [earlynews24.com]