2015 NRL Grand Final
|2015NRL Grand Final|
|Date||4 October 2015|
|Location||Sydney, NSW, Australia|
|Clive Churchill Medal||Johnathan Thurston|
|Australian National anthem||Jessica Mauboy|
Brett Suttor (Touch Judge)
Steve Carrall (Touch Judge)
The 2015 NRL Grand Final was the conclusive and premiership-deciding game of the 2015 NRL season and was played on Sunday 4 October at Sydney's ANZ Stadium between the Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys. North Queensland won the match 17–16 in golden point extra time, claiming their first premiership title in their twentieth year of competition. Due to its dramatic ending, the match has been regarded as one of the greatest grand finals in rugby league history, drawing comparisons with the 1989 NSWRL Grand Final and the 1997 ARL Grand Final. Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston, who kicked the winning field goal for his team, was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal as the best player on the ground. Pre-match entertainment was headlined by Australian rock band Cold Chisel.
The Brisbane Broncos qualified for their first grand final appearance since 2006, and had never previously been defeated in a grand final, winning all six they have featured in – 1992, 1993, 1998, 2000, 2006, and 1997 for Super League. It was Broncos coach Wayne Bennett's eighth involvement in a grand final after coaching the club in all of their previous grand final appearances, and winning a premiership title for the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2010. The North Queensland Cowboys reached the premiership deciding game for the second time in their history since their inception into the competition in 1995, after losing to the Wests Tigers in their first appearance in 2005. It was the second time in history that no New South Wales team had featured in the grand final after 2006 which featured the Broncos up against the Melbourne Storm, and is the first time that a grand final featured two Queensland-based clubs. It was also the first time that two clubs captained by Indigenous Australians played a NRL grand final. 
Brisbane, who finished second in the regular season ladder, and North Queensland, who finished third, faced each other during the first week of the finals series in a qualification game, with the Broncos prevailing 16-12 in a tight contest at Suncorp Stadium to earn a week off and the right to host a grand final qualifier. The Broncos defeated minor premiers the Sydney Roosters 31-12 in the preliminary final at Suncorp Stadium to claim the first spot in the grand final. In losing to the Broncos, North Queensland were forced to play an extra week in the finals and faced the sixth-placed Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at their home venue of 1300SMILES Stadium, beating them convincingly 39-0. They then qualified for the grand final after defeating the Melbourne Storm 32-12 in their preliminary final at AAMI Park.
|Darius Boyd||Fullback||Lachlan Coote|
|Corey Oates||Wing||Kyle Feldt|
|Jack Reed||Centre||Justin O'Neill|
|Justin Hodges (c)||Centre||Kane Linnett|
|Jordan Kahu||Wing||Antonio Winterstein|
|Anthony Milford||Five-eighth||Michael Morgan|
|Ben Hunt||Halfback||Johnathan Thurston (c)|
|Sam Thaiday||Prop||Matt Scott (c)|
|Andrew McCullough||Hooker||Jake Granville|
|Adam Blair||Prop||James Tamou|
|Alex Glenn||2nd Row||Gavin Cooper|
|Matt Gillett||2nd Row||Ethan Lowe|
|Corey Parker||Lock||Jason Taumalolo|
|Jarrod Wallace||Interchange||Rory Kostjasyn|
|Mitchell Dodds||Interchange||John Asiata|
|Joe Ofahengaue||Interchange||Scott Bolton|
|Kodi Nikorima||Interchange||Ben Hannant|
|Wayne Bennett||Coach||Paul Green|
U20s Grand Final
Sunday, 4 October
|Penrith Panthers U20s||34 – 18||Manly Warringah Sea Eagles U20s|
NRL State Championship
Sunday, 4 October
|Newcastle Knights||12 – 26||Ipswich Jets|
Sunday, 4 October
|Brisbane Broncos||16 – 17||North Queensland Cowboys|
Corey Oates (7') 1
Jack Reed (34') 1
Corey Parker 2/2
(6' pen, 9')
Jordan Kahu 2/2
(35', 43' pen)
1 (10') Justin O'Neill
1 (25') James Tamou
1 (80') Kyle Feldt
2/3 Johnathan Thurston
1 (83') Johnathan Thurston
After an even opening five minutes, the first points of the game were scored by the Broncos in the sixth minute, when a Cowboys handling error in midfield followed shortly by a penalty allowed Corey Parker to kick a 40-metre penalty goal. The Broncos then returned the first tackle after the restart for the opening try of the game, after a late offload on his own ten-metre line from Adam Blair to Anthony Milford allowed Milford to set up a line-break down the left wing, culminating in a try to Corey Oates; Parker converted the try and Brisbane led 8–0. The Broncos then knocked on shortly after the restart, and North Queensland scored its opening try from the ensuing scrum set piece, with Jake Granville breaking the line to set up Justin O'Neill for the try; Johnathan Thurston converted and Brisbane led 8–6. North Queensland nearly scored again three minutes later, with Oates making a try-saving tackle on Kyle Feldt after a pass from Lachlan Coote.
Over the ensuing fifteen minutes, North Queensland had the better of possession and field position. In the 24th minute, attacking from a repeat set which had followed a grubber kick, James Tamou took the first pass out of dummy half and scored under the posts; Thurston converted the try to give North Queensland a 12–8 lead. Brisbane scored an opportunistic try in the 34th minute, when Thurston lost the ball in a tackle in North Queensland territory, and Matt Gillett recovered for Brisbane and broke the line to put Jack Reed over for a try; Jordan Kahu converted and Brisbane regained a 14–12 lead which it took to half time.
Jordan Kahu kicked a penalty goal in the 43rd minute to extend Brisbane's lead to 16–12. From that point, the game played out as a defensive battle in Brisbane territory. North Queensland had the better of possession and field position, and generated several repeat sets in attack, but were unable to score due to a combination of poor execution and Brisbane's stout goal line defence. The Broncos actively sought to defend its lead, kicking for touch on sixth tackle throughout most of the second half to wind down the clock and to slow the game down to manage fatigue. North Queensland's two closest opportunities came in the 61st minute, when Kane Linnett dropped a cut-out pass from Thurston which would have seen him score out wide; and in the 64th minute, when fullback Coote was tackled around the legs by Gillett just short of the try line – Coote reached out to put the ball over the line and was penalised for a double movement.
With four minutes remaining, and the ball deep in North Queensland's territory, Ben Hunt conceded a penalty for a dangerous lifting tackle on Linnett, giving North Queensland field position. North Queensland failed to score on the ensuing set; but on Brisbane's following set, the Broncos failed to get to a sixth tackle kick away, after Feldt stripped the ball one-on-one from Hunt at midfield on fourth tackle with one minute remaining. North Queensland attacked, and on the sixth tackle, after a couple of powerful runs from forwards Taumalolo, Tamou and Scott, Thurston received the ball on the left edge, beat a couple of tackles, looked left before floating a pass right to link up with his 5/8 Michael Morgan who ran diagonally right, cut in to draw three Brisbane defenders then as the full time siren sounded, 5 metres out flicked a short outside pass to winger Feldt who scored just inside the right corner post to level the match up at 16-16. Jonathon Thurston had a conversion attempt from the right touchline after full time to win the match. He took a long time to compose himself for the kick, however the ball failed to break enough to the left, hitting the right upright half way up and bouncing out, leaving the game tied up at 16–16 and heading into golden point extra time to break the deadlock.
North Queensland kicked off first in extra time, and the opening kick-off was knocked on by Ben Hunt, immediately giving North Queensland an attacking scrum on Brisbane's ten-metre line. North Queensland set up for the game-winning field goal, and after aborting attempts on the first and third tackles due to strong defensive pressure from the Broncos, Johnathan Thurston was able to make up for his missed conversion by slotting the field goal on the fifth tackle from 19 and a half metres out to win the game 17–16. It was the first time an NRL Grand Final had been decided in Golden Point.
At the post-match ceremony, Johnathan Thurston received the Clive Churchill medal as best on ground. This was then followed by the championship ring ceremony and the co-captains holding the Provan-Summons trophy.
Most commentators, analysts and fans rate the 2015 Grand Final as one of, if not the greatest ever played, ranking it alongside the 1989 decider.
Both grand finalists, North Queensland and Brisbane, as well as minor premiers the Sydney Roosters, qualified for the second World Club Series, played in the 2016 pre-season against clubs from the English Super League.
- Newman, Paul (4 October 2015). "NRL Grand Final: North Queensland Cowboys beat Brisbane Broncos in golden-point thriller". ABC News (Australia). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
- Brad Walter (5 October 2015). "NRL Grand Final 2015: North Queensland Cowboys triumph in top three grand final wins of all time". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, NSW. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
- Walter, Brad (30 September 2015). "Indigenous captains Johnathan Thurston and Justin Hodges create grand final history". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- Walter, Brad (10 June 2016). "Cody Walker proud to be among highest Indigenous representation in an NRL game". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- "Thurston kicks Cowboys to premiership". National Rugby League. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
- "Cowboys win classic NRL Grand Final". Triple M. 4 October 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
- "Kane Linnett the most relieved man in Australia". News.com.au. 5 October 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
- Tom Decent (5 October 2015). "2015 NRL grand final: Ben Hunt's three minutes of horror". Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, NSW. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
- Adrian Proszenko (7 October 2015). "Cowboys, Broncos and Roosters to represent NRL in World Club Series". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, NSW. Retrieved 7 October 2015.