Brisbane will collect the wooden spoon for the first time in its history after a 32-16 loss to North Queensland ensured a heartbreaking end to Darius Boyd’s career.
- The Broncos slumped to a record 11th consecutive loss to ensure they will finish bottom of the ladder
- Darius Boyd was making his final NRL appearance after a decorated career with the Broncos, Dragons and Knights
- Kyle Feldt starred for the Cowboys with three tries
The Broncos, who entered the competition in 1988, fell to a Cowboys outfit inspired by a Kyle Feldt hat-trick at Lang Park.
The result extended the Broncos’ record losing streak to 11 matches.
The Broncos had needed a win to have any chance of avoiding the wooden spoon and the loss means they will finish with an embarrassing 3-17 win-loss record.
Due to their woeful points differential, the Broncos cannot leapfrog second-last Canterbury, who are also on three wins, even if the Bulldogs lose to minor premiers Penrith on Saturday.
Adding further insult, the Broncos lost makeshift five-eighth Kotoni Staggs to a suspected ACL knee injury in the first half.
Boyd was making his 337th and final NRL appearance and while did his best to inspire his Broncos, North Queensland’s Scott Drinkwater and Valentine Holmes proved the difference in the six-tries-to-three win in front of 17,174 spectators.
The Cowboys duo set up three tries apiece, with Holmes icing the result with a stunning run from his line before unleashing Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to score and finish a near 100-metre effort in the 76th minute.
It was a happy farewell for Cowboys premiership back rower Gavin Cooper, who played his 247th and last match for the club.
He signed off by kicking the final conversion to seal a rare win in Brisbane for the third-last Cowboys.
Incoming North Queensland coach Todd Payten still faces a challenge next year after the Cowboys finished with a disappointing 5-15 record.
Boyd set the scene for a fairy-tale farewell when he burrowed over from dummy half to score in the 13th minute to give Brisbane a 12-0 lead after Payne Haas had opened the scoring with a third-minute try.
But North Queensland scored three straight tries, with Holmes setting up two as the visitors grabbed a 16-12 lead at half-time.
The Broncos levelled the scores at 16-all when winger Corey Oates scored in the 55th minute.
But from this point, it was all the Cowboys, as the NRL leading try scorer Feldt sealed his hat-trick with two tries in seven minutes.