Both teams come in to week two with victories over highly rated pre-season opponents. The Broncos took down the reigning premiers and the Cowboys downed the Raiders in an overtime thriller. Now they resume their battle for the best in Queensland, a battle that has been close in every game since round 3 2015.
LAST TIME OUT
The Broncos return to Brisbane after taking care of Cronulla. At just after the hour mark the scores were just 2 points apart at 20 – 18, but to most the Broncos were in control. It was some Milford dance and desire that put the Broncos up by eight with 10 to go and there it remained as the whistle blew. While they had a period of just over ten minutes where they let in 12 points, overall, they were staunch in defence and any team that puts more than 20 on the Sharks is going to trouble most sides in the NRL this season. They may still be feeling some of the tackles as this week goes one, but they will enjoy the extra three day’s rest over their visiting opponents.
The Cowboys dominated possession and failed to finish multiple attacks on the resolute Raiders. On a hot and humid night, tempers flared but both sides defended strongly and it required combinations of luck and fortune for the scoreline to vary. The Raiders had obviously thought that the Cowboys were six inches taller than they were and aimed up accordingly and these contacts may still be resonating in the ears along with the cheers of the local crown when they broke the over-time deadlock with a dropkick that bruised the bottom of the crossbar and held up in goal long enough for Gavin Cooper to finish the contest.
Now the two teams who have fought out a number of ridiculously close matches with margins ranging from single points to just a single try, will once again light up a Friday night in Brisbane. One thing is for sure, we want the players on the field to be the ones who determine the outcome. Golden Goal or a last minute drop kick may be the determining factor, one thing is for sure, it will be close.
This match will be a game won by who may protect the magic men of attack the best. The Cowboys forward pack, with Matt Scott, Jason Taumalolo, Scott Bolton and Gavin Cooper as well ass their experienced substitutes will be up against Korbin Sims, Adam Blair, Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire. Both are experienced, both lost very high level players in Tamou and Norman, and both set the platform for their halfback/five-eighth combinations. Whilst the magic will be in the hands of Milford or Thurston, it will be how this battle is fought that will determine the ultimate victors.
These games are almost always instant classics, and mainly due to how hard the battle in the trenches is.
Always a tough game and the Broncos only played 80 minutes last Thursday night. The Cowboys faced up to a team with a couple of missing stars but some players seemed more keen for the biff than the ball, as well as an extra 5% of match time. Maybe it is my personal favouritism for the JT led Cowboys, or the fact that the Cowboys have no fear of playing the Broncos in Brisbane (the Storm are a different matter) that I will be thinking that they will turn last year’s round four, one point loss around, and head home with the points. Cowboys by 2.
Brisbane Broncos v North Queensland Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium, 8.05pm (AEDT) Friday
Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd (c), 2. Corey Oates, 3. James Roberts, 4. Tautau Moga, 5. Jordan Kahu, 6. Anthony Milford, 7. Ben Hunt, 8. Korbin Sims, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Adam Blair, 11. Sam Thaiday, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire, 14. Alex Glenn, 15. Tevita Pangai Junior, 16. Herman Ese’ese, 17. Jai Arrow, 18. Benji Marshall, 19. Joe Ofahengaue, 20. Kodi Nikorima, 21. George Fai.
Cowboys: 1. Lachlan Coote, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Justin O’Neill, 4. Kane Linnett, 5. Antonio Winterstein, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. Johnathan Thurston (c), 8. Matthew Scott, 9. Jake Granville, 10. Scott Bolton, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Ethan Lowe, 13. Jason Taumalolo, 14. Ben Hampton, 15. John Asiata, 16. Coen Hess, 17. Patrick Kaufusi, 18. Shaun Fensom, 19. Gideon Gela-Mosby, 20. Javid Bowen, 21. Kalyn Ponga.