The Brisbane Broncos started perfectly against the North Queensland Cowboys but a horrid season has seen an equally horrible end.
For the first time in 33 years, the Broncos have claimed the wooden spoon, finishing last in 2020 after a 32-16 loss on Thursday nights.
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In a farewell for Darius Boyd, who was retiring after his 337th match in the NRL, it all started so perfectly for the Broncos with Payne Haas opening the scoring after just three minutes.
But following an innocuous looking tackle, gun centre Kotoni Staggs laid on the ground with early reports he had suffered an ACL tear.
It’s a brutal blow for the Broncos star who was seemingly firming for a NSW State of Origin berth after being one of the few shining lights for Brisbane this season.
The trainers called for the medicab but Staggs was helped from the field, unable to put pressure on his injured leg.
There was concern straight away.
“He clutched for it straight away, it’s not good signs for the Broncos,” Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston told Nine.
Paul Vautin added: “Almost a hyperextension really.
“Lots of pressure on that knee, it’s buckled.”
While there was hope it wasn’t as serious as first expected, Broncos great Darren Lockyer was quick to reveal the news.
“As expected, they think it‘s an ACL,” Lockyer said. “Horrible news.”
It was a brutal end to the season and social media quick to react to the blow to Staggs’ Origin hopes.
The NRL Physio tweeted that it didn’t look good.
“Unfortunate news from the Broncos with initial tests suggesting Kotoni Staggs suffered an ACL injury. Not good signs with high accuracy of testing from medical staff. If confirmed would be the 17th ACL injury this season, 6-9 months recovery.”
The injury was the last thing the Broncos needed but Darius Boyd went out with a try soon after to open up a 12-0 lead after 12 minutes.
But after losing the attacking weapon of Staggs, it all went downhill for the wooden spooners.
Three tries from the 20th minute gave the Cowboys 16-12 lead at the break.
While there was a grind early in the second half before Corey Oates evened up the score with a 54th minute try, the Cowboys had more in the tank, running away with three tries in 12 minutes to take the Broncos to 11 straight losses.
It was a horrific end to a sad season with scandal, coaching dramas and constant pressure on the club after substandard performances on the field.