Date: Friday 15th May 2015
Venue: 1300Smiles Stadium
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote 2 Matthew Wright 3 Justin O’Neill 4 Kane Linnett 5 Antonio Winterstein 6 Michael Morgan 7 Johnathan Thurston (c) 8 Matthew Scott (c) 9 Jake Granville 10 James Tamou 11 Gavin Cooper 12 Ethan Lowe 13 John Asiata
Interchange 14 Ray Thompson 15 Ben Spina 16 Ben Hannant 17 Sam Hoare 18 Rory Kostjasyn
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd 2 Jordan Kahu 3 Jack Reed 4 Justin Hodges 5 Lachlan Maranta 6 Anthony Milford 7 Ben Hunt 8 Sam Thaiday 9 Andrew McCullough 10 Adam Blair 11 Alex Glenn 12 Matt Gillett 13 Corey Parker Interchange 14 Jarrod Wallace 15 Francis Molo 16 Corey Oates 17 Kodi Nikorima
The always competitive Queensland derby between the Broncos and Cowboys will be even more anticipated on Friday night, as both teams find themselves in the top four after ten rounds of the season. The first placed Broncos will be looking to maintain their position on top of the table, as they face the Cowboys, who are arguably the in-form team of the competition on the back of a six game winning streak.
The days of the Cowboys relying on star-playmaker Jonathan Thurston to single-handedly guide them to victory looks to be over, as a genuine match winner has emerged in five-eight Michael Morgan. In previous seasons, an off-game from ‘JT’ almost certainly resulted in a Cowboys loss, however against the Bulldogs, the 23 year old Morgan proved that he is capable of leading the team to victory.
The young fullback turned halve was outstanding against Canterbury, scoring two tries and setting up another as the Cowboys defeated last years grand-finalists 23-16. His brilliant form over the last two seasons has lead to him being discussed as a Queensland origin bolter, but more importantly it has relieved a lot of pressure from the shoulders of Thurston.
Meanwhile, the Broncos defeated the Panthers 8-5, in what very well may be the lowest scoring affair of 2015. Defence got the Brisbane side home, as they only missed 11 tackles compared to Penrith’s 35. The Broncos will need to continue their great defensive effort if they are to defeat the Cowboys, who boast some of the most lethal attacking players in the league.
If the game comes down to the wire, Broncos halfback Ben Hunt has shown that kicking field goals isn’t his strong point, however his brilliant vision has allowed the Broncos to steal victory in the final stages of the game against both the Roosters and Panthers this season.
The result of the clash could come down to which halves pairing is more dominant, however Cowboys hooker Jake Granville will be looking to lead his side to victory against his former club. The electric number 9 left the Broncos in search of a starting spot, and his outstanding form this season will surely have the Broncos regretting the decision to let him go.
The Broncos have proven to be difficult opponents for the Cowboys throughout the history of the two clubs, with the Broncos defeating the Cowboys 28 times, compared to only 9 victories for the North Queensland side. The last time these two sides met, which was in round three at Suncorp stadium this season, the Broncos handed out a 44-22 hiding. That loss seems to have been the turning point for the Cowboys season though, as they are yet to lose a match since then. The Cowboys also hold the advantage over the Broncos in Townsville, as they ended Brisbane’s 2014 season by defeating them 32-20 in the Qualifying Final.
The Broncos will be boosted by the return of Sam Thaiday from suspension, however they will miss the impact of front rower Josh McGuire, who will miss one week due to a dangerous tackle against Penrith.
The Broncos were lucky to steal the victory from the Panthers last Friday night, and on the back of their great form over the last 6 weeks, the Cowboys should be strong enough to defeat the Broncos in a close encounter.
Prediction Cowboys by 6