Every team would love to have a player like Adam Reynolds calling the shots. South Sydney could definitely do with his services.

Brisbane’s inspirational skipper returned from his knee injury to ensure they didn’t slip to a 1-3 record while also handing the Cowboys their first loss of the NRL season in their Friday night Round 4 showdown at Suncorp Stadium.

Reynolds’ right boot tormented the Cowboys’ back three and conjured up three of Brisbane’s six tries in the 38-12 triumph which got his team’s premiership campaign back on track after losses to the Roosters and Panthers either side of a win of his old Rabbitohs teammates.

The Cowboys entered this match with a point to prove despite winning their first three matches over ordinary opposition and they failed to show they should be considered genuine title contenders against a Broncos side missing injured stars Payne Haas, Reece Walsh and Brendan Piakura.

Reynolds has Cowboys at sixes and sevens

The Broncos were wearing their throwback 1990s style jerseys against the Cowboys and Reynolds did the No.7 strip made famous by Allan Langer proud with his masterful display.

In actual fact he could have played in a dinnersuit and not emerged with a scratch.

The Cowboys’ kick pressure was non-existent with Broncos legend Darren Lockyer on Nine commentary saying if he had been playing fullback he would have been telling his players up front to get in Reynolds’ face every time he’s about to kick.

But he was too smart for them and his kicks were too clever in catching the Cowboys out of position or too skilful as they spiralled, floated and drifted away from them in the slippery conditions.

“We knew with conditions like that it’s always going to be tough for the back three,” Reynolds said. “I thought our kick-chase tonight was fantastic and that’s so crucial in wet-weather footy.”

Former Dally M Medal-winning halfback Cooper Cronk on Fox League commentary said “he bamboozled the back three. He just peppered them”..

Reynolds was making an early return from a knee injury and did not look 100% fit but even when not physically at his best, he is still Brisbane’s most influential player.

“Particularly early when you can build pressure, on the back of Adam’s kicking, that was one of the reasons why we went to Sydney (to sign him) two or three years ago, for that,” said coach Kevin Walters. “On these occasions he knows which kicks to put up and how to put them under pressure with his kicking game.”

His pre-season wrestling teammate and heir apparent as captain, Pat Carrigan, also stepped up with Haas sidelined by a knee injury of his own.

Carrigan chewed up a game-high 212 metres, with 79 coming post contact, from his 21 runs while also managing to find time to peel off 42 tackles to lead his team in that stat as well.

“I thought tonight he really stood up, not a lot of ball playing but his carries as well and his tackling was very strong. That’s the Pat Carrigan we need every week,” Walters said.

Broncos back with a bang

The Broncos drew first blood when Billy Walters scampered over from close range and after a penalty goal, the rain started coming down from high above the stadium and so did Reynolds’ kicks.

Cowboys winger Murray Taulagi was the first to spill one and then when fullback Scott Drinkwater hesitated in the 13th minute, the ball bounced clear of his grasp and through Brisbane’s hands for Jesse Arthars to slide over in the corner.

North Queensland cut the deficit to eight when Tom Dearden sent Taulagi free down the left flank and his banana kick was perfect for fellow bananabender Valentine Holmes to score a classy try in the wet.

But the right boot of Reynolds again struck, this time sending the ball grubbering across the turf for Kotoni Staggs to make it 18-6 midway through the first half.

Billy Walters celebrates scoring the first try. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The Cowboys refused to lie down and after Chad Townsend created space, Drinkwater shimmied his way past opposing fullback Tristan Sailor and got the green light from the Bunker over a potential obstruction and a shaky putdown.

Reynolds extended the lead to 20-12 with a penalty goal late in the first half and nearly created more points with the last play before the break when Taulagi botched another of his kicks but the winger was able to recover to bat the ball dead.

Selwyn Cobbo looked set to go the distance after taking an intercept near his goal line but Dearden produced the tackle of the short season so far when he came from the clouds and cut the Brisbane centre down as he dived over in the corner.

The try was given on the field but the Bunker review showed Dearden was able to take Cobbo over the sideline just before he could get the ball over the stripe.

Dearden’s defence was brilliant but the Cowboys’ tackling in the middle of the ruck was non-existent as Tyson Smoothy dived over for his first try at NRL level in the 54th minute to give the Broncos a 26-12 advantage.

The Cowboys didn’t surrender but couldn’t make any inroads and were pretty much clinging on to their part in the contest until the 70th minute when Ezra Mam touched down after kicking for himself to beat the stretched North Queensland defensive line.

Broncos veteran Corey Oates, filling the unusual role of bench utility, scored his first try since 2022 after not scoring in nine appearances last year and fittingly it was from a Reynolds kick which put the Cowboys out of their misery.

Payten not happy with Cowboys’ commitment

Losing the famed Queensland derby which pre-dates the Titans and Dolphins stuck in Cowboys coach Todd Payten’s craw.

“It’s our biggest club game of the year and we just gave the opposition too many shots inside our own half. We wouldn’t beat the Temora Dragons by doing that. I thought we should have been down by more at half-time than eight points,” Payten said.

“The most disappointing part of the game for me is Tommy Dearden makes his awesome defensive play, one of the better ones I’ve seen for a long time and we just had no spark or reaction off the back of that.”

Payten said he wasn’t completely happy with his team’s defence over the first three rounds even though they beat the Dolphins, Knights and Dragons.

“It’s a real reality check about some of our football,” he said.

“Our back five made 14 errors throughout the game. We’ve got some work to do.”

End

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