'It's not ideal': Boyd says farewell as Brisbane clinch wooden spoon
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'It's not ideal': Boyd says farewell as Brisbane clinch wooden spoon

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In the foyer of their glistening monument to success and prestige at Red Hill, the Brisbane Broncos have all six premiership trophies lined up in glass cases. Everyone who walks through the door, from fans to players and staff, are greeted by them on a daily basis.

Now they must make room for another addition: the wooden spoon. A season of abject misery now has the ultimate symbol of recognition. Retiring stalwart Darius Boyd tried until he could barely pick his legs up but it wasn't enough to prevent a 32-16 defeat to North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.

A win would have given them hope of avoiding the ignominy of finishing last, assuming the Panthers beat the Bulldogs. Now, 16th spot is Brisbane's and Brisbane's alone. To compound their evening, Kotoni Staggs, a rare shining light and a NSW Origin candidate, suffered a suspected ACL tear and will be out for up to nine months.

Brisbane's final report card shows them winning just three of 20 games. Two of those camyupe in the first two weeks of the competition and they would only win one - against the Bulldogs - after the competition resumed.

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Every record was broken. It's their first wooden spoon, it was a club-record 11th straight defeat, never have they lost 17 games in a season before. They conceded the most points and had the worst differential of all time. It was as bad as it sounded.

At least the crowd was decent. There were 17,174 in the house to see Boyd's departure, along with that of Cowboys veteran Gavin Cooper. That was the biggest post-COVID crowd for the NRL and they did get to see a wonderful performance from Scott Drinkwater, who was brilliant in a game that otherwise looked every bit a lower-table stoush.

The Broncos are about to get a new CEO and coach and the work can't start soon enough. The rebuild looks daunting no matter who gets the green light.

Darius Boyd's (left) final NRL game, against the Cowboys, ends in defeat.

Darius Boyd's (left) final NRL game, against the Cowboys, ends in defeat.Credit:Getty

After the match, Boyd praised his young teammates, who have endured a season that will take some digesting for years to come given Brisbane's status. He said he wouldn't be defined by a difficult season and felt blessed to have even stepped out in the NRL.

"It's not ideal, disappointing. But for me, playing one game for the Broncos was my fairytale, my dream. Everything past that has been a bonus. You can say the wooden spoon is terrible... for me it's a dream to go out and play at Suncorp, play for the Broncos, to play in front of fans and my family," Boyd said.

Boyd has overcome mental health issues and famously gave a press conference compiled of one-word answers. He leaves the game as a well-spoken ambassador grateful for the opportunities he has been given - and taken.

He said he had come to enjoy working with the club's rising back-line players and a specialist or assistant coaching role would pique his interest when he decided on a path for his future.

NSW Origin hopeful Payne Haas helped himself to an early try when he cleaned up the error from Kyle Feldt, who couldn't keep the handle on the high ball near his line. Feldt was good again but won't be eligible for the Maroons as he undergoes groin surgery.

The Cowboys pressed down the other end and went close through Jake Clifford, only to see play quickly find its way up the other end for Boyd to grab a fitting four-pointer in his final match.

He's been on the end of some slick back-line moves over the years but this one was a two-metre job from dummy-half. They all count the same on the scoreboard and the fullback was jubilant as he rose from the pack after the try was awarded.

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Clifford made his next chance count when he raced through to beat Boyd in the one-on-one aerial contest. Then one of the new laws being trialled had an impact, when what looked to be a daring, 90m effort was disallowed after initially being awarded.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow chased Drinkwater's early kick, from his 10m line no less, before it evaded Xavier Coates. The Cowboys winger raced clear to score under the posts and North Queensland looked as if they had levelled the scores.

But a bunker review before the conversion saw the on-field ruling overturned and Brisbane spared... for the moment. Tries to Feldt and Justin O'Neill would give them a 16-12 lead at half-time, which would normally be curtains for the Broncos in their current state.

Corey Oates, who had a difficult night defensively and contributed some poor reads on his wing, helped the Broncos level the score 15 minutes into the second half. But as soon as Jason Taumalolo returned for his second-half stint, momentum was turned for good.

Feldt got his second after another impressive piece of attacking play from Drinkwater, scoring in the corner to ensure North Queensland ended the season on a good note. The same couldn't be said for their once-proud rivals.

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