Boyd Cordner’s Herculean week ended on Saturday with a two-try, 80-minute effort as his Sydney Roosters held off a fast-finishing Brisbane for an 18-16 win at Allianz Stadium.
The Roosters and Blues captain played 160 minutes in 72 hours, with Saturday’s thriller coming only three nights after Cordner scored a try as he led NSW to a massive win in the State of Origin series opener at Suncorp Stadium.
Cordner’s three-try week also included more than 300 run metres and 65 tackles in an effort Roosters coach Trent Robinson labelled “incredible”.
“The week that he’s had and then to go and play 80 minutes again – he needs to be lauded for what he did out there tonight and broke open the game to score that try in the first half and then to take it away,” Robinson said.
Cordner’s second try came from a Jake Friend grubber that Jordan Kahu spilled on his own goal line, allowing the Roosters back-rower to scoop up the ball and score what proved to be the match-winner. But the win was soured by a groin injury to winger Daniel Tupou, who left the field early in the second stanza.
The home side led 18-6 with seven minutes to go in front of 12,236 fans before Queensland Origin representative Corey Oates and then Tautau Moga scored late on to erode the margin to two.
Cordner and Oates were two of nine players backing up from Wednesday night, and it was the Roosters quartet who fired the best shots with Queenslanders Aidan Guerra and Dylan Napa, and NSW’s Blake Ferguson also playing strong games.
“That’s who we are, we pride ourselves on backing up, play a tough game of Origin but we want to turn up for the boys here,” Cordner said.
“This is where we invest a lot of our time, all of our time, this is our home. I pride myself on turning up for the boys no matter what. Aidan, Dylan and Fergo all played really good games tonight.
“We’ll enjoy our rest now, a couple of days off we might get and then we’re back into next week.”
Cordner said backing up from Origin so quickly had been beneficial for his mental approach to the Broncos game.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t find it too difficult, probably physically more than mentally,” Cordner said.
“I thought mentally I was really good today with the game on Wednesday night and how it went, it was obviously a really physical game. I wasn’t at 100 per cent physically but mentally I was sweet and I think that’s what got me through.
“It might sound a bit weird but I don’t mind backing up. I find that sometimes you find through the game physically, you find it easier. I don’t know how it works, I don’t mind it.
“I wouldn’t have minded playing last night. I think it’s because you’re really calm going into the game, you’re not thinking about it all week and you don’t have to spend all that nervous energy worrying about plays or the opposition as much. You just go in with a clear head and sometimes it works good for you.”
The Roosters leapfrogged Brisbane into the top four with their ninth win of the season, and still have two byes up their sleeve.
Oates, Sam Thaiday, Darius Boyd, Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire all backed up for the Broncos after playing for Queensland on Wednesday.
“When you coach the Broncos you never give up, they keep at it, I thought we could’ve pulled it off,” Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett said.
“Tough game and both teams came to do their best here tonight. It finished up being the two points. When it comes down to one play in the last second of the game, it’s not what you want.”