It’s not clear if it was the spirit of the ANZACs, a strong never-say-die club culture or a desire to not let each other or their coach down, but the Dolphins NRL made an historic comeback victory against the Gold Coast Titans this afternoon.
They came back from 26-0 to beat the Titans 28-26 at Suncorp Stadium in front of a crowd of 22,034. It is the equal biggest comeback in premiership history, going back to 1908.
And it was another result and performance that took seasoned league fans and commentators by surprise, with many writing them off when the Titans had them at 26-0 and the side was struggling to get more than 39 per cent possession and with a completion rate of just 64 per cent.
The game was the Dolphins’ first ANZAC Round clash, with the team wearing a jersey paying tribute to Anzac Avenue – a road built from Petrie to Redcliffe in memory of local Diggers who died in WWI.
It’s special round for Head Coach Wayne Bennett who said, before kick-off, it was about paying respect to those who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.
And it was a message he ensured his players appreciated in the days leading up to the game.
So, their performance in the first half in which the Titans appeared to race out of the blocks and dominate in attack and possession was a surprise.
Momentum appeared to shift in their direction with a try to Robert Jennings just before half-time.
The side came out firing after the break with tries to Mark Nicholls, a juggling act which resulted in a hard-won try to Jarrod Wallace, but it took Jennings three goes to get his second try.
Confusion reigned as he missed an opportunity to lift and place the ball over the try line – believing it would have been a double-movement.
It had his teammates and commentators baffled.
The second attempt resulted in a knock-on over the try line.
He redeemed himself a few minutes later with a try which put the Dolphins within striking distance of victory, trailing by just two points (26-24).
It was a never-say-die barging try by Euan Aitken which sealed the win and saw Suncorp Stadium erupt as Dolphins fans collectively lost their minds!
While Bennett was happy to be on the right side of history today, he said he’d been on the ‘other end’ of historic wins in the past.
“I’ve got a few records, not all good,” he said at the post-game press conference.
When asked what he said at halftime, Bennett said: “not much. I can’t remember now”.
“They showed some wonderful qualities – they had to when they put themselves in that place. I was obviously pleased with that.
“Just the way they went out and regrouped themselves in the second half and played the whole second half for the 40 minutes. It was a complete contrast to the first half.”
While Captain Jesse Bromwich was baffled by Jennings’ ‘brain explosion’ at the try line, he was impressed by his effort to try again not once, but twice until he scored.
He agreed his side’s self-belief and never-say-die attitude was again on full display.
“I think the second half it was really evident the style that we play. I think it’s off the back of our training and our preseason and just not wanting to let each other down. That’s the nucleus of the team that’s really working for us. Hopefully that doesn’t go away,” Bromwich said.
When the team was down 26-0, they could have thrown in the towel but chose a different course of action.
“We were at a bit of a crossroads at that point. You can either show some ticker or you can just go away and I guess put yourself in a corner. The way that we came out and were able to fight our way back into the game is what we can learn a lot from,” Bromwich said.
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By Dominika Lis
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