The regular NRL season finishes up with a Queensland derby in what is sure to be a near-sellout ground despite the unpopular Thursday evening time slot. It is round two of “little brother vs big brother”. It is rather fitting that the final round of the season should feature one of the more crucial battles between the Sunshine State’s top teams. The Cowboys will seal a place in the finals with a victory while the Broncos are still aiming to finish second.
The Cowboys were rewarded for their brave performances with a 22-14 victory over the Tigers at Campbelltown. This match is yet another opportunity for Paul Green to outfox the man who was once his mentor, Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.
With the stakes at lofty heights, this is an opportunity for the likes of Michael Morgan, Lachlan Coote and Jake Granville to take their respective games to another level, given the absence of superstar half-back Johnathan Thurston. This is also the case for the Cowboys forwards, with stalwart prop Matt Scott still missing.
The Broncos were brought back to Earth with a tremendous thud, having been destroyed 52-34 by the Eels in their own backyard. If anything, that scoreline was flattering to the Brisbane club after they scored two late tries. The defeat saw the Broncos slip down to third behind the Sydney Roosters. They can, in theory, finish as low as fifth however their points differential should be enough for a top four finish.
Bennett will have ripped into his troops after their poor showing against the Eels but it is uncommon for the Broncos to produce consecutive poor showings. Last week’s result means they will be eager to unleash a multitude of fury on “little brother”, as well as ending their recent losing streak at the venue.
2017 – Rd 2 North Queensland Cowboys def. Brisbane Broncos 21-20 (golden point) at Suncorp Stadium
2016 – Semi Final North Queensland Cowboys def. Brisbane Broncos 26-20 (extra time) at 1300SMILES Stadium
2016 – Rd 11 North Queensland Cowboys def. Brisbane Broncos 19-18 at 1300SMILES Stadium
2016 – Rd 4 Penrith Brisbane Broncos def. North Queensland Cowboys 17-16 (golden point) 21-20 at Suncorp Stadium
2015 – Grand Final North Queensland Cowboys def. Brisbane Broncos 17-16 (golden point) at ANZ Stadium
The Cowboys have won four of the last five meetings against their rivals, including the memorable 2015 Grand Final, which is widely regarded as being amongst the greatest of all time. We could be in for another dramatic derby with a golden point deciding three of the last five meetings, extra time being needed in one and the other game still being decided by a single point.
Brisbane lead the overall head-to-head 30-15 but they haven’t won away at the Cowboys since 2013.”Little brother” has made inroads to improve their overall record against “big brother” in recent times.
|Lachlan Coote||1||1||Darius Boyd|
|Kyle Feldt||2||2||Corey Oates|
|Javid Bowen||3||3||James Roberts|
|Kane Linnett||4||4||Tautau Moga|
|Antonio Winterstein||5||5||Jordan Kahu|
|Te Maire Martin||6||6||Anthony Milford|
|Michael Morgan||7||7||Kodi Nikorima|
|John Asiata||8||8||Sam Thaiday|
|Jake Granville||9||9||Ben Hunt|
|Scott Bolton||10||10||Adam Blair|
|Gavin Cooper||11||11||Alex Glenn|
|Ethan Lowe||12||12||Matt Gillett|
|Jason Taumalolo||13||13||Josh McGuire|
|Ben Hampton||14||14||Benji Marshall|
|Coen Hess||15||15||Tevita Pangai Junior|
|Corey Jensen||16||16||Joe Ofahengaue|
|Shaun Fensom||17||17||Herman Ese’ese|
|Sam Hoare||18||18||Jai Arrow|
|Kyle Laybutt||19||19||Jaydn Su’A|
|Braden Uele||20||20||David Mead|
|Enari Tuala||21||21||Todd Murphy|
The Facts That Matter
North Queensland Cowboys
The Cowboys have a habit of peaking at the right time of the year and have come from behind in recent Queensland derby matches to win. There was no greater example of this than the 2015 Grand Final, where they came back to level the game before winning it with a golden point.
Their most recent encounters have been played at the speed of light, and with the track at 1300SMILES Stadium being notably fast and flat, there is no reason why this match will be any different.
Both teams are ranked highly in terms of metres gained however the Cowboys will need to improve their offload game in order to benefit their attack. Capitalising on their chances is especially vital, given that they are up against a side who can punish anyone who fails to convert their opportunities.
Brisbane’s clinical edge has also been missing in recent Queensland derbies. They have led against the Cowboys on a number of occasions however they were not able to kill the game off.
The Broncos had a one-sided penalty count in their favour last week but were still second best against a rampant Parramatta side. Their cause wasn’t helped by making some rather fundamental errors however that was out of character from their season so far.
They will fancy their chances in attack and are one try away from hitting triple figures for the season. Discipline could also be a strong point for a Broncos side who have given away the least penalties in the NRL.
The Broncos have plenty to play for but this game is even more crucial for the Cowboys. That fact, alongside their recent record over their rivals and having home advantage, should be enough for them to edge another narrow win against the Broncos. Cowboys by 2.
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