The Brisbane Broncos won the Australian National Rugby League (NRL) premiership with a 38-12 victory over Canterbury in Sunday's grand final at the Sydney Football Stadium.
The Broncos ran in seven tries in response to Canterbury's two to end the Bulldogs' dreams of a fairytale win as the Broncos claimed their fourth title in seven years.
Canterbury qualified for the playoffs only after winning its last four games of the regular season. Then they remarkably won four sudden-death matches in succession to reach the grand final.
Brisbane who came from 12-10 behind at halftime comprehensively outplayed Canterbury on Sunday as the Broncos scored 28 unanswered points in the second half.
"We just couldn't get a groove in the first half. They just stopped our momentum completely," Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett said.
"It wasn't until we got that first try in the second half that we really got going but we were really on fire after that."
Brisbane won the Australian Rugby League title in 1992 and 1993 as well as last year's Super League title when the competition was split by the war for control of the game.
With the code reunited this season under the NRL banner, the Broncos were tipped as the team to beat.
They finished the regular season as the highest-placed team and although they lost one of their playoff matches they went into the grand final as the shortest-priced favorites in the 91-year history of the game in Australia.
Even so, the Bulldogs, who had won their last two matches in extra time to reach the grand final, were the better side in the first half of Sunday's match.
The Broncos raced to a 6-0 lead after just four minutes when winger Michael Devere scored in the left-hand corner and fullback Darren Lockyer converted.
But the Bulldogs hit back, first through a penalty from winger Daryl Halligan in the 11th minute then from a try under the posts by second rower Tony Grimaldi that Halligan converted in the 22nd minute.
The Broncos regained the lead in the 28th minute when replacement Kevin Campion scored out wide after a sweeping backline movement but the Bulldogs again hit back.
Second rower Steven Price split the Brisbane line then drew the defense to put center Willie Tanau in for the touchdown nine minutes before the interval.
The second half was all Brisbane, however. The Broncos hit the front just two minutes after the re-start when lock Tonie Carroll crossed under the posts.
Winger Wendell Sailor scored out wide eight minutes later as Canterbury's players began to show signs of fatigue.
Brisbane second rower Gorden Tallis, who was named man of the match, put the game out of Canterbury's reach when he touched down under the posts in the 58th minute before the Broncos completed their win with two late tries to hooker Phillip Lee and center Darren Smith.
"We were pretty confident at halftime but we started the second half poorly and things just got away from us," Canterbury hooker Jason Hetherington said.
"I suppose we did pretty well just to get this far but they were far too good for us."
Source: Sports Illustrated