An attacking masterclass led by Reece Walsh helped the Broncos power past the Warriors 42-12 on Saturday night and book in a grand final showdown with the Panthers.
Lining up against the side he spent the first two seasons of his NRL career with for the first time since moving back to his junior club, Walsh was immense with ball in hand and inflicted much of the damage in front of a crowd of 52,273 at Suncorp Stadium.
The 21-year-old Queensland star’s class and confidence was more evident than ever as he shook off an early intercept – which gifted Dallin Watene-Zelezniak a 60-metre runaway try – to set up three tries and lay on six line breaks for teammates, before leaving the field for an early rest with four left to play.
His performance was helped greatly by a dominant forward effort, with Payne Haas, Jordan Riki and Patrick Carrigan in particular able to dictate the pace of the game throughout.
The opening quarter saw a shootout of the most thrilling kind, as the two sides traded blows in an end-to-end contest.
Watene-Zelezniak opened things with a trademark diving effort, before he became the single season record holder for the Warriors with his 24th of the year after picking off a looping pass from Walsh and running 60 metres.
In between that Billy Walters burrowed over, before the Broncos put on a clinic down their left edge to score through Herbie Farnworth, Jesse Arthars and add another through Walters, which came after Walsh burst through the line and linked with his dummy-half back through the middle of the field.
Down 24-8 with 12 to play in the half, the Warriors had to be next to score and were, crossing through Marcelo Montoya after Adam Pompey was denied a set earlier but drew a penalty for a tackle off the ball.
But with Pompey pushing a third conversion wide, what could have been a one-score deficit remained 12 points at the break.
As it turned out the Broncos were far too good in the second half as things started to fall apart for the visitors, who had both Wayde Egan and Dylan Walker leave the field for HIAs which they passed and Pompey binned for a professional foul.
— NRL (@NRL) September 23, 2023
Brisbane took full advantage to put the result beyond doubt with further tries to Jordan Riki and Ezra Mam, giving them a 24-point lead with 16 to play which allowed coach Kevin Walters to take Adam Reynolds and Walsh out of the game early.
Even without their star No.7 on the field the Broncos kept the scoreboard ticking over with Farnworth grabbing his second of the night with 10 to play to confirm the final scoreline and set up a clash against the Panthers next Sunday at Accor Stadium.