A victory for the North Queensland Cowboys will ensure they will feature in the 2017 finals as they battle it out with the Brisbane Broncos at 1300 Smiles Stadium on Thursday night.

Last Time Out

The North Queensland Cowboys were under massive pressure heading into their clash with the Wests Tigers last Friday night. With 12 minutes left until full-time, the Cowboys trailed the Tigers by 14-6 and were set to lose their fifth match in a row and putting their finals chances in doubt. However, the Cowboys found spirit and desire by scoring three tries which included an excellent double from Kyle Feldt. The boys from the north clinched a 22-14 victory and ended their four game losing streak.

The Broncos had a night to forget last Thursday at Suncorp Stadium where they conceded 52 points. It was one of the worst defensive performances that a Wayne Bennett coached side had produced in a very long time. The only positive was their good patches in attack. Not many teams can say they scored 34 points and still lost especially when Anthony Milford came up with three try assists. Brisbane will look to put up a much better defensive performance as they up against a inspired and confident Cowboys side.

Team Changes

The Cowboys are set to field the same side from last week as Lachlan Coote and Gavin Cooper will enjoy their second game back from injury.

Unfortunately for the Broncos Korbin Sims is out for the season with a broken arm. Sims has featured in 22 games in 2017 and has easily been one of the best forwards for the Broncos. Joe Ofahengaue is back from his three week suspension while Tevita Pangai Jr makes his way back into the fold after missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury. Both of these handy players will replace Jaydn Su’a and Jai Arrow on the bench. Jordan Kahu replaces David Mead on the wing as he has fully recovered from his groin injury.

A Must Win Game For The Cowboys

A lot is at stake in this clash as both of these teams have produced some of the best games of rugby league whenever they’ve met each other. Who could forget the 2015 grand final or the two games that went into extra time in 2016.

The Cowboys can finish as high as fifth or as low as ninth. If the Cowboys lose this match they will have to await the results on Dragons vs Bulldogs and Sea Eagles vs Panthers games. St George have a better points differential than the Cowboys, Sea Eagles and Panthers but will have to win their game against the Bulldogs to keep their finals aspirations alive.

North Queensland will have a challenge as they up against a Broncos team that will look to make amends from their disappointing effort against Parramatta. Even though Brisbane will get two bites at the cherry a win will allow them to play their first finals match on home soil.

Prediction

The Broncos certainly have a lot to work on before this game. Being thrashed by the Eels was a wake up call they probally needed considering their new approach and style to the game of rugby league. The Cowboys are on home turf and are the more desperate of the two teams to come away with the two competition points. With the home ground advantage and a possibility of having the same team on the paddock for two consecutive weeks the Cowboys should get the better of the Broncos in what should be a close game of rugby league.

The Cowboys by 6

North Queensland Cowboys vs Brisbane Broncos, Thursday 31 August, 7:50PM 1300 Smiles Stadium

Squads

Cowboys: 1. Lachlan Coote 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Javid Bowen 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Michael Morgan 8. John Asiata 9. Jake Granville 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo Interchange: 14. Ben Hampton 15. Coen Hess 16. Corey Jensen 17. Shaun Fensom Reserves: 18. Sam Hoare 19. Kyle Laybutt 20. Braeden Uele 21. Enari Tuala

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Sam Thaiday 9. Ben Hunt 10. Adam Blair 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh Mcguire Interchange: 14. Benji Marshall 15. Tevita Pangai 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Herman Essese Reserves: 18. Jai Arrow 19. Jaydn Su’a 20. David Mead 21. Todd Murphy