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The Broncos are still rugby league’s kings of Brisbane and they sure are happy about it.
They emphatically answered the question that’s been buzzing around all week, claiming a 18-12 win over the Dolphins on Friday night in the first Battle of Brisbane.
The match lived up to the hype, went down to the wire and was only really sealed when Kotoni Staggs ran the length of the field to put the Broncos six-points up with a minute remaining.
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But it was the post-try celebration that had the footy world talking as Staggs pointed to the ground and screamed “our f**king home”.
There had been plenty of talk of the Dolphins taking over Suncorp Stadium with the new addition to the NRL sharing Brisbane’s showpiece venue for seven matches in its inaugural season, as well as playing three games at its traditional home of Kayo Stadium (formerly known as Moreton Daily Stadium) in Redcliffe.
It will also take a game to the Sunshine Coast and its Round 23 clash against the Knights to Perth.
After finally being added as the second team in Brisbane, despite being about 35km out of the city in Redcliffe, the Dolphins have wanted to paint the town red as the Broncos had mostly had the city to themselves since entering the competition in 1988.
But the Broncos weren’t about to let the city go that easily, and after the win, the Broncos showed the Dolphins exactly where they should go in a hilarious tweet.
“Safe travels back to Phinland,” the Broncos posted, in a pointed reminder that the Dolphins aren’t associated with a specific location after opting to be known by a generic nickname that represents the southeast Queensland area.
The Broncos have won six premierships in the club’s history but it’s now been 17 years since the side last took out the competition.
The Broncos have among the most membership numbers in the NRL, having fallen off the top spot due to poor performances in recent seasons.
But with a shiny new rivalry against the Dolphins, who have become the darlings of the NRL to start the year, it’s bound to take rugby league in the city to a new level.
Especially as the Broncos now move to 4-0, a record the side hasn’t achieved since 2003.
And after a win in the absorbing opening chapter in the Battle of Brisbane rivalry, the Broncos proved they still own the city, with Staggs showing the side is well and truly back.
Reece Walsh, who had done a similar celebration to Staggs last week against the Dragons, said it was important to get the win against the upstarts.
“You could see Tones at the end, pointing at the ground, the soil, I think it’s a statement to say ‘This stadium’s ours’ and we’re not going to give it up easy,” he said.
While the Broncos may have staked their claim for Brisbane, the Dolphins would have lost no followers from a brave performance after losing Kodi Nikorima to an ugly head clash and Sean O’Sullivan to a torn pec.
Broncos legend Sam Thaiday believes it’s possible all four Queensland teams could finish in the top eight, which would be a remarkable result.