They were two plays that will forever define North Queensland’s inaugural premiership triumph – Kyle Feldt’s final-second try and the match-winning golden point field goal – but Johnathan Thurston wasn’t sure either of them would come off.
With the seconds ticking down to fulltime and Brisbane’s defence in Sunday’s NRL grand final looking impenetrable, Thurston knew he had to keep the ball alive at all costs.
As he beat two would-be Broncos defenders and circled searching for support 20m out from the Brisbane line, Thurston could have been borrowing from the title of Wayne Bennett’s book Don’t Die With the Music In You.
Thurston ran backwards before shuffling the ball out to Michael Morgan who straightened and plunged between defenders before producing an incredible flick pass out of the back of the hand for Feldt to score and lock the scores up at 16-all.
“I felt we were coming over them towards the back end of the game, we lost our structure a little bit, we didn’t convert the opportunities we did have but you just need to keep the ball alive and not die with it,” Thurston said of the incredible 80th-minute play.
“I saw Morgo there with a bit of space and threw him the ball and said get on your way son.
“We are never out of a game – Morgo, what a freak.”
One of the great goalkickers, Thurston then then slightly mishit his sideline conversion attempt for the win and the ball struck the right upright, forcing the game into extra-time.
The Queensland and Australian representative shrugged off that disappointment to nail an 82nd-minute field goal to claim the NRL title for the Cowboys.
“The ball came out of my hand pretty wobbly, it didn’t hit flush on the ground,” Thurston said of the field goal.
“So I was lucky to strike it the way I did. It was only the last millisecond I saw it go through.
“I don’t know who the first one was I jumped to, I think it was Cootey (Lachlan Coote), and from then it was mayhem.”