Brisbane are through to their first NRL grand final in eight years after fullback Reece Walsh starred in a 42-12 thrashing of the Warriors in the preliminary final at Suncorp Stadium.
The Broncos will face back-to-back defending premiers Penrith at Accor Stadium on Sunday week after the dazzling Walsh and rampaging prop Payne Haas played key roles in front of 52,273 fans.
Always influential, Walsh threw a blatant forward pass that led to a try to Jordan Riki to give the Broncos a 30-12 lead in the 53rd minute of Saturday’s clash.
Warriors centre Adam Pompey was sent to the sin bin in the 58th minute for a professional foul on Kotoni Staggs before Broncos No.6 Ezra Mam scored two minutes later.
Centre Herbie Farnworth nabbed his second for the night to put the result beyond doubt with 11 minutes left.
The hosts had too much firepower for the Warriors, with Walsh providing six line break assists and three try assists in a masterclass against his former club..
The Broncos have not won a premiership since 2006 and last played in a decider in 2015 when they lost to North Queensland.
While the Panthers will be favourites next week, the Broncos have showcased the forward punch and razzle dazzle to make it a contest for the ages.
The Broncos, wooden-spooners in 2020, have been transformed under the stewardship of coach Kevin Walters and can now dare to dream of a seventh title.
“I feel really good. It’s a great achievement from everyone at the club,” Walters said.
“From where we have been to where we are now. It’s a great feeling.
“I have said to the boys in there we need to enjoy it, but when we get back in tomorrow, it’s a new week.”
Brisbane led 24-12 at halftime, with Haas leading the way up front.
Walters was in a relaxed mood minutes before kick-off, even stopping in the lift to pose for a selfie with a Warriors fan.
But his state of mind would have changed when the Warriors took an 8-6 lead after eight minutes, courtesy of two tries to winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
After scoring in the corner, Watene-Zelzniak latched onto a Walsh cut-out pass to race away and score his 24th try of the season, a club record.
The Broncos then unleashed to score three tries in seven minutes.
Walsh did not let the early setback worry him. He put centre Farnworth over with a short ball before a rampaging 35-metre burst by Haas was the catalyst for a try to winger Jesse Arthars.
Walsh split the Warriors to put hooker Billy Walters over for his second midway through the first half before Warriors’ Shaun Johnson orchestrated a try for winger Marcelo Montoya to give his side a sniff at the break.
Any hopes of a comeback were snuffed out early in the second stanza with the Riki try.
After finishing 15th last year, the Warriors have done themselves and rookie coach Andrew Webster proud.
“It’s been a great year. Super proud of the boys,” Webster said.
“We tried hard all year and improved out of sight.
“We didn’t get it right today, that was pretty clear. Got beaten by a really good side.”
© AAP 2023