No question this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday (presented by Mazda) provides by far the biggest upset in the NRLW premiership’s short history.
It goes back little more than a year to the final round of the 2019 round-robin series of matches, the seemingly omnipotent Brisbane Broncos facing the Warriors at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The Broncos had swept all before them in all four outings in the inaugural 2018 competition including an emphatic 34-12 win in the grand final and keeping the winning streak going in the first two rounds in 2019 (including a 20-0 win over the Roosters the week before taking on the Warriors).
In stark contrast, the Warriors were coming off a disappointing 6-26 defeat by St George Illawarra in front of their fans in Auckland.
With a line-up stacked with stars all the pundits were picking one-way traffic as the Broncos charged to a second straight title decider.
The Georgia Hale-led Warriors were up for the fight, though, opening up a 10-0 lead.
The first was a slick effort just four minutes into the contest. Captain Georgia Hale, who had been switched to the halves for the match, slid across behind the ruck to the short side where she linked with centre Atawhai Tupaea who attracted two defenders, throwing a sweet delayed pass to give left winger Madison Bartlett a clear run to score wide out.
If the first try was founded on finesse the second was all brutal power, prop Annetta Nu'uausala steaming onto a short ball 10 metres out, scattering five defenders on a get-out-of-my-way charge to the line. Crucially, as it happened, Apii Nicholls converted for a 10-0 lead the Warriors held at halftime.
The start to the second half didn’t shape well, though, as the Broncos scored in the opening minute and again 10 minutes later. Neither try was converted leaving the Warriors just two points ahead.
Under the pump, they scrambled and fought to protect their precarious lead, ultimately frustrating the Broncos and even having the chance to increase their winning margin in the final seconds only to miss a try-scoring opportunity with the line wide open.
It mattered not. The Warriors had become the first and still the only team to give Brisbane a loss.
Alas the win wasn’t enough to earn them a berth in the grand final. They needed the Roosters to beat the Dragons the following day for a date with the Broncos in the last dance but the Dragons prevailed. They were no match for Brisbane in the final, going down 6-30.
September 28, 2019
Brisbane Broncos 8 (Tamika Upton, Amy Turner tries).
Warriors 10 (Madison Bartlett, Annetta Nu'uausala tries; Apii Nicholls conversion).
Halftime: 10-0 Warriors.
Referees: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski and Ethan Menchin.
Warriors | Apii Nicholls; Hilda Peters, Jules Newman, Atawhai Tupaea, Madison Bartlett; Georgia Hale (c), Charntay Poko; Annetta Nu'uausala, Krystal Rota, Bill-Jean Ale; Crystal Tamarua, Onjeurlina Leiataua; Kathleen Wharton. Interchange: Kanyon Paul, Tasia Seumanufagai, Amber Kani, Tanika-Jazz Noble-Bell.
Brisbane Broncos | Chelsea Baker; Julia Robinson, Amy Turner, Amber Pilley, Tamika Upton; Raecene McGregor, Ali Brigginshaw (c); Millie Boyle, Lavinia Gould, Amber Hall; Annette Brander, Tazmin Gray; Rona Peters. Interchange: Tarryn Aiken, Steph Hancock, Mariah Storch, Chelsea Lenarduzzi.