One of the greatest individual tries of the modern era has done what New South Wales can't – handed Queensland's State of Origin side a problem.
Greg Inglis beat seven defenders on a diagonal 90-metre run during South Sydney's 28-26 win over Brisbane to mesmerise 44,122 fans at Suncorp Stadium and erase any lingering doubt that he will be remembered as an all-time great of the game.
The 27-year-old fielded a Ben Barba chip kick on his own 10m line and brushed aside every Bronco who came near him, reducing his opponents to mere extras in a stunning solo performance destined to be replayed for years to come. But Inglis is not even the Maroons' incumbent fullback – that's Billy Slater - for the interstate series which begins on May 28 and Queensland's insistence on staying loyal to those who have won eight consecutive series will be sorely tested.
Despite the devastating try, the game finished shrouded in controversy as Brisbane fought back from 14-0 down after 15 minutes. At the end of a day which saw NRL attendances hit their highest level since 1999 for a single date, the Broncos were livid at consecutive 79th-minute penalties awarded to South Sydney which allowed halfback Adam Reynolds to kick the winning 30-metre penalty goal. “It's costing us every week,” five-eighth Justin Hodges told whistler Grant Atkins.
First, the Broncos were penalised for strip on Sam Burgess when he charged down a Ben Hunt kick, then Brisbane were ruled offside when Bryson Goodwin took a quick tap.
“He ran from over there and I got him here,” a frustrated Corey Parker told Gavin Badger.
The contentious obstruction rule was also tested when Kirisome Auva'a scored after defender Ben Hunt collided with dummy runner Chris McQueen. On-field officials Badger and Atkins ruled ‘no try' but that call was overturned because “Greg Inglis received the ball on the inside of the lead runner,” according to the official explanation.
When Reynolds converted the try, the epic contest was tied 26-26.
South Sydney had opened the scoring after just seven minutes, Fijian hooker Apisai Koroisau crossing off Inglis' pass in the seventh minute.
Four more minutes elapsed before debut winger Alex Johnston flew high to claim a kick in the north-eastern corner. Following Inglis' magical try, it got to a point where home fans could be heard groaning collectively.
But the pendulum swung back in the Broncos' favour when Luke Burgess knocked on with the line open, and then second rower Ben Te'o also had a try disallowed.
At 25 minutes, Brisbane centre Dale Copley kicked ahead eight metres out, Inglis fumbled, Copley chopped at the ball again and hooker Andrew McCullough raced through to touch down. Justin Hodges drifted to the right side of the field and expertly directed winger Lachlan Maranta to the corner the Broncos were only two points in arrears. When Matt Gillett forced his way over in the 35th minute, the huge crowd erupted as he punched the air in front of the southern grandstand. Ben Hunt's conversion had Brisbane ahead.
During their stirring revival, they dominated possession for 10 consecutive sets of six.
There was drama at halftime when Gillett packed into the Souths second row when they Bunnies were trying to pack a scrum quickly to stop the clock.
“I didn't see it,” 200-game referee Badger told Souths captain John Sutton when he complained about the incident.
McCullough posted his second try immediately following halftime, Souths hit back via George Burgess and then Jack Reed edged the Broncos further in front.
SOUTH SYDNEY 28 (K Auva'a G Burgess G Inglis A Johnston A Koroisau tries A Reynolds 4 goals) bt BRISBANE 26 (A McCullough 2 M Gillett L Maranta J Reed tries B Hunt 2 C Parker goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Gavin Badger, Grant Atkins. Crowd: 44,122.