5 Oct 2015

Thurston kicks Cowboys to victory in thrilling grand final

6:11 am on 5 October 2015

Halfback Johnathan Thurston regained his composure after missing an attempted conversion in the last minute of play to kick the winning field goal in extra-time and give North Queensland a 17-16 victory over Brisbane in last night's NRL grand final.

Matthew Scott and Johnathan Thurston Cowboys co-captains with the trophy
Broncos v Cowboys NRL Grand Final. 2015.

Matthew Scott and Johnathan Thurston Cowboys co-captains with the trophy Broncos v Cowboys NRL Grand Final. 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

In one of the most dramatic finishes ever seen in a title decider, the Cowboys came from four points down with just seconds left on the clock to win their first NRL title in the club's 21 year history.

The Broncos, who had won each of their six previous grand final appearances, led 16-12 with just seconds remaining when North Queensland winger Kyle Feldt scored a try in the right corner to level the scores.

Thurston had the chance to clinch victory with the sideline conversion but his curling kick hit the upright and bounced away, sending the game into 'golden-point' extra-time.

The Broncos made a fatal mistake off the re-start when Ben Hunt dropped the ball just outside the Brisbane tryline, allowing the Cowboys to take possession after the scrum.

Thurston positioned himself for the field goal and calmly potted it over, triggering wild celebrations among the record crowd of almost 83,000 spectators at Sydney's Olympic stadium.

"I'm speechless, I can't believe it," said Thurston, who was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal for the player of the match. "I can't believe what we've just done."

It was a heart-breaking ending for Brisbane, who went into the first all-Queensland grand final as strong favourites.

The Broncos raced to an 8-0 lead after wing Corey Oates finished off a spectacular long-range try but the Cowboys hit back with tries from centre Justin O'Neil and prop James Tamou.

Brisbane regained the lead when centre Jack Reed crashed over and went to the break 14-12 in front.

They extended their advantage to four points with a penalty after the re-start then held on against a wave of North Queensland attacks before their defence finally cracked in the last seconds of regulation time.

"One minute, that's all it took to lose a grand final," Brisbane prop Sam Thaiday said.

"It's the first time two Queensland teams played in a grand final. Let's hope it's not the last one."

Based in Townsville, the Cowboys were admitted to the NRL in 1995 and finished last in three of their first six seasons.

Their only previous appearance in the grand final was in 2005, the same year Thurston joined the club, but they were beaten by Wests Tigers.

"Some of the farmers and the economy up there have been doing it tough. It's taken 20 years and we've finally brought a premiership home," North Queensland coach Paul Green said.

"When (Thurston) took that goal, I wouldn't have wanted anyone else to take it. He iced the game when he got the chance."

Thurston, who's won a rugby league World Cup with Australia and several State of Origin titles with Queensland, says winning the NRL title is the greatest achievement in his career.

"It's number one, it's what we try and do every year, and we've finally done it, I can't be prouder of the boys."