Almanac Rugby League – The fairytale continues

For a lot of people the main focus of this game involves Wayne Bennett and Darren Lockyer.

The pair established a strong relationship when Bennett coached at the Broncos, slotting him in at fullback early in his career before moving him to five-eighth – and moulding him into an international in both positions.

But more than that, they have a strong off-field bond – like father and son. The coach and his favourite player are both taciturn types who you have to poke with a stick to get them to say anything. Both are happy to sit in the background and watch others take the limelight.

They would have the closest relationship of any player and coach. And this weekend, one will end the others hopes. Either Lockyer leads the Broncos to victory and ends Bennett’s stint at the Dragons on a losing note, or Bennett rains on Lockyer’s farewell season by knocking his team out two weeks before the big one.

It’s a big soap opera with people wringing their hands wondering which would be fairer.

I’m not one of those people. I have no qualms in wishing that Lockyer’s final season ends on Saturday night. I want him to end his storied career with a loss to the team coached by his mentor. I want us to rain on his parade.

And I feel not even a skerrick of sadness or shame for that. As far as I’m concerned, there is no charity in footy. I’m not going to wish a loss on my team just so some guy on a team I hate can have a fairytale finish. Screw that. With big shiny knobs on.

Besides it’s not like Lockyer and the Broncos need my charity anyway. They’ve won 12 of their last 14, including the last seven straight, and are pretty hot right now. As for us, our late-season slump has been well-documented and has, at time, felt like a car crash in slow motion.

Last week, the Broncos ran up 40 points against the Warriors (thanks, in part, to Manu Vatuvei, who dropped the ball so many times he must be allergic to it) while we gave up a half-time lead to play like crap and lose 21-12 to the Tigers.

So if anyone needs a little charity it’s Wayne Bennett and his Dragons, not Darren bloody Lockyer. If he’s as good a bloke as everyone says, he should just let us win. It’s not as if he doesn’t already have enough premierships anyway.

Permit me a relevant aside here, readers. My day job is as a journalist, though not covering sport. One tool of that trade is to file as much of your copy as early as you can, so you’re not trying to bang out an entire story right on deadline. So I wrote the above before the game. What follows is written quite a short time after the final hooter sounded. Okay reader, please continue.

Okay, history now knows that the Dragons lost a nail biter in extra-time. And that meant the Dragons’ season is no more (it also meant that Lockyer’s fairytale continues), but I think I’ve established that I don’t care about that.

I’m not going to go into the game in any great detail, because I’m not too keen to dwell on a season-ending loss. So allow me to give a rather brief recap.  They scored first. We defended our line a million times in the first half. So well that when they got a penalty near the posts late in the first half Lockyer thought “my God, these Dragons are utterly phenomenal. There is just no way we’re going to break their  line. Go for the penalty goal, Corey.” Well that’s what I like to think he thought.

So they went in just 8-0 up at the break despite them having enormous amounts of possession.

In the second half we got on their line for the first time in the game and we scored through Adam Cuthbertson. Jamie Soward converted to make it 8-6. They scored again to make it 12-6 to them. Then we threw everything at them but, just when all seemed lost Cuthbertson stripped the ball to give us possession on the halfway line. A few tackles later Darius Boyd scored to make it 12-10. Then Soward nailed the conversion for a 12-all scoreline and a feeling that we could actually end the Lockyer fairytale.

Instead it continued, courtesy of a Lockyer field goal in extra-time.

It sucks like a black hole that the Dragons season is over and now I have to work out what do do with my weekends for the next five months (to be honest, some of them will be occupied by watching my 2010 season highlights DVD as well as that year’s grand final).

But I can accept the loss because we never ever gave up. We played all the way to the end. And really, I can’t ask for anything more than that.

Except maybe for a gust of wind to blow Lockyer’s field goal off target.




  1. Glen, spoken like a loyal fan of your club, and that’s fair enough. I suspected this game would be so close that something special would decide it. Bennett got it right after the game when he said something along the lines of “there were no losers out there tonight”. The Dragons won a lot of respect for their first half heroics in defence, as you point out, and for their refusal to lie down at 12 – 6 with a disallowed try three minutes from time. But two things won it for Brisbane – firstly, the kids were alright again last night (Beale, McCullough, Copley, Glen), and secondly, Lockyer (calling for the clutch play when his head must have been ringing, and making it when that’s his job) – the stuff of champions, regardless of who they play for.

    I still don’t believe that there will be a fairytale for Locky. But what if his injury is too bad for him to front up and we saw the last of him last night? Wouldn’t that be a fairytale in it’s own right?

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