Bennett stony faced to the end - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bennett stony faced to the end

By Laine Clark 20/09/2008 11:33:59 PM Comments (0)

Even rival captain Cameron Smith felt sorry for the Broncos when the Wayne Bennett era came to an abrupt halt at Suncorp Stadium.

But Bennett - maintaining his poker face until the end - reckoned he wasn't emotional at all after the curtain was drawn on his remarkable 21-year stint in Brisbane.

"I had 21 years here guys, it was never going to go down to one game - can you get that into your heads?" Bennett snapped tonight.

But Melbourne's last gasp 16-14 NRL finals win over Brisbane sure lived up to the occasion.

The Broncos emerged from a week of off-field controversies to have a gutsy win in their grasp leading 14-12 in the final minute and in possession.

However, a bruising Sika Manu hit caused a turnover, the Storm spun it wide and Greg Inglis crashed over with the matchwinner with 46 seconds left on the clock.

Broncos skipper Darren Lockyer had stared down the media before the kick-off to admit he was the man tackling a Brisbane bar manager in CCTV footage splashed across the TV news all week.

But his steely resolve left him after Inglis dived over.

He cursed to the heavens before joining his teammates slumped on the ground, even before Smith was lining up the conversion attempt.

"This is the hardest one (loss)," said Lockyer, a veteran of more than 300 NRL games.

Lockyer looked inconsolable as he fronted the media, shattered to know that they had given a sad farewell to Bennett and veteran Tonie Carroll.

Rival captain Smith - a Queenslander - almost shed a tear as he looked over the gutted Broncos sprawled across Suncorp Stadium - almost.

"It was a bit of a strange feeling at the end. I guess there was a feeling of disappointment for the Broncos , I have a lot of mates at the Broncos and they look very disappointed," Smith said.

Yet Bennett still sat stony faced at the post-match press conference.

"I'm not emotional at all to be quite honest. I'm disappointed, but not emotional," Bennett said.

"You have always been worried about how I am going to go out.

"I am more disappointed about losing a football game than leaving the place, or how it should have been perceived how I should leave."

Lockyer couldn't get his head around the result, let alone Bennett's looming departure to St George Illawarra.

"I don't think it has sunk in yet, we are all a bit shellshocked. The next couple of days we will start thinking about who is leaving," Lockyer said.

"It has been a great journey, unfortunately it ends tonight."

But Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy - a former Broncos assistant under Bennett - was more succinct about the six time premiership coach's legacy.

"What he has brought to that club and kept driving into the club, it won't go away because he has gone," Bellamy said.

"I'm sure his legacy will stay there - he has certainly done one hell of a job."

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