Tom Dearden's 'insane' act leaves NRL world in disbelief as Todd Payten move is praised

The Cowboys half produced one of the best tackles in NRL history chasing down Selwyn Cobbo in a length of the field effort.

Cowboys co-captain Tom Dearden has pulled off one of the greatest tackles in NRL history, miraculously stopping the Broncos from scoring an almost certain try on Friday night. Brisbane produced a dominant performance in the Queensland Derby with a 38-12 win at Suncorp Stadium but the North Queensland co-captain stole the show with a freakish effort that had NRL legend Cooper Cronk singing the praises of Todd Payten for his bold off-season move.

With Brisbane leading 20-12 and the game at the time hanging the balance, Selwyn Cobbo latched on to a poorly executed pass from North Queensland's Scott Drinkwater in the 49th minute and streaked away downfield. With nothing but an empty field beside and ahead of him, it looked as if the centre would stroll over untouched and extend their lead to double digits.

Pictured left Tom Dearden's try-saving tackle and right Todd Payten
Tom Dearden produced one of the best tackles in NRL history chasing down Selwyn Cobbo in a length of the field effort. Image: Fox Sports/Getty

But the figure of Tom Dearden began to loom in the background, inch by inch closing the gap on Cobbo. Even 10 metres out from the line Cobbo looked all but certain to score but Dearden perfectly timed a legs tackle to take the Broncos centre over the sideline just in time, in a try-saving tackle that would give Scott Sattler's unforgettable effort on Todd Byrne in the 2003 grand final a run for its money.

"Unbelievable. Tom Dearden. A tackle from heaven... this is an extraordinary chase," Dan Ginnane said in Fox League commentary. "That goes into the annals of great try-saving tackles. Tom Dearden was in the middle of the field. He has made up all that ground."

Cooper Cronk said the effort from Dearden is exactly why he was handed the armband at the start of the year in what at the time was a very controversial decision. In pre-season, the Cowboys coach removed Jason Taumalolo and Chad Townsend as co-captains and replaced them with Reuben Cotter and Dearden.

The move made Dearden - who resurrected his career at the Cowboys after being let go by the Broncos in 2021 - a younger captain than Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston, who was 23 when he was named captain in 2007. The playmaker's elevation to co-captaincy came after he rejected interest from several rival clubs and committed his future to North Queensland by signing a lucrative five-year contract extension, keeping him in Townsville until 2029. And Cronk says efforts like that are exactly why Payten made the right call to give him the armband.

"Todd Payten changed the captaincy in the offseason... and with that exact play, that is a leadership play from Dearden," Cronk said. "This young man has done some special things... but that is one to put in the highlight reels for Tom Dearden.

"The desire, the chase, the never-say-die attitude to chase down Selwyn Cobbo, one of the more athletic players we have in the competition. A terrific play from the co-captain."

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 29: Tom Dearden of the Cowboys runs the ball during the round four NRL match between Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium, on March 29, 2024, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Cooper Cronk said the effort from Tom Dearden is exactly why he was handed the captains armband at the start of the year. (Chris Hyde via Getty Images)

Adam Reynolds terrorises Cowboys with kicking game

A constant throughout the Broncos' big win over the Cowboys on Friday night was Adam Reynolds' short and long kicking game that terrorised North Queensland's back three. Fullback Scott Drinkwater and wingers Kyle Feldt and Murray Taulagi all dropped floating bombs by the Broncos skipper that resulted in points.

Reynolds was returning from a medial collateral ligament strain that led to him missing last week's loss to Penrith and his return showed exactly what the side was missing, leading them to a crucial second win. In the wet conditions, Reynolds repeatedly went to the air, with towering bombs that had the Cowboys' backs hoping to catch the ball, looking less and less confident with each kick Reynolds put up. Kevin Walters said after the game that the Broncos half knows how to play in the testing conditions better than anyone.

"You can build pressure on the back of Adam''s kicking. That is one of the reasons we went to Sydney three years ago (to sign him)," coach Kevin Walters said. "On these occasions, he knows which kicks to put up and how to put people under pressure with his kicking game."

The Broncos were still without a host of stars for their clash with the Cowboys, making their dominant win all the more impressive. Brisbane had previously won only seven of 20 games without representative prop Payne Haas since 2019, as he is sidelined with a knee injury. But in his absence lock Pat Carrigan stepped up, producing his best game of the season to win the Carl Webb Medal as player of the match. The Broncos were also without star fullback Reece Walsh and second-rower Brendan Piakura but Tristan Sailor and Jaiyden Hunt both stepped up admirably.


"I got really inspired by Penrith last night (in their win over the Roosters) and their attitude," Walters said. "Some of their key players were not playing and they rolled Penrith out. We had some disruptions to our team but we rolled the Broncos out regardless of who was in the jerseys. That's the Broncos. Defensively it was our best performance of the year."

with AAP