The latest instalment of the epic Broncos vs Cowboys rivalry kicks off on Friday night, when Brisbane look to secure their first win of the year against North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Broncos are coming off a round 1 defeat at the hands of the Storm 22-12 at AAMI Park in Melbourne. Despite the loss, they showed a lot of determination and effort to get back into the game and push the Storm for the full 80 minutes, which will give them confidence heading in this game.
North Queensland Cowboys
The Cowboys were able to secure a 24-12 win against the Dragons in round 1 to start their season off on a winning note. Although the score line suggests they won convincingly, the Cowboys started slowly against the Dragons and they will need to ensure they do not make the same mistake against the Broncos at home.
Matt Lodge has been suspended for two weeks, which sees Shaun Fensom come onto the bench and Tevita Pangai Jr promoted to start in the front row alongside Joe Ofahengaue. David Fifita starts in the back row with Jaydn Su’a moving back to the bench.
Fensom makes his Broncos debut against his former team, and Matt Gillett retains his role at lock after amassing nearly 60 tackles in his first game back from neck surgery against the Storm in a losing effort.
Broncos 21-man squad: 1. Darius Boyd (c), 2. Corey Oates, 3. James Roberts, 4. Jack Bird, 5. Jamayne Isaako, 6. Anthony Milford, 7. Kodi Nikorima, 8. Tevita Pangai Jr, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Joe Ofahengaue, 11. Alex Glenn, 12. David Fifita, 13. Matt Gillett. Interchange: 14. Kotoni Staggs, 15. Jaydn Su’a, 16. Thomas Flegler, 17. Shaun Fensom. Reserves: 18. Patrick Carrigan 19. Pat Mago 20. Richie Kennar 21. Gehamat Shibasaki
North Queensland Cowboys
The Cowboys have named an unchanged team after their round 1 victory over the Dragons in Townsville last week. The forward pack stays the same, with nearly every member running for over 100 metres in round 1 (Taumalolo ran for 300 metres on his own). It is also Jordan Kahu and Josh McGuire’s first game against their old club, and first game playing at Suncorp Stadium as part of the visiting team.
Cowboys 21-man squad: 1. Jordan Kahu, 2. Nene Macdonald, 3. Justin O’Neill, 4. Tom Opacic, 5. Javid Bowen, 6. Te Maire Martin, 7. Michael Morgan (c), 8. Matt Scott, 9. Jake Granville, 10. Jordan McLean, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Coen Hess, 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14. John Asiata, 15. Josh McGuire, 16. Mitchell Dunn, 17. Francis Molo Reserves: 18. Ben Hampton 19. Jake Clifford 20. Corey Jenson 23. Enari Tuala
HEAD TO HEAD
The last time these two teams met was back in round 22 last season, when the Cowboys were able to get away with a 34-30 comeback win in Townsville, in what was one of Johnathan Thurston’s last few games for the club. They also met in the corresponding round 2 clash last year at Suncorp Stadium, a game the Broncos were able to win 24-20 after the infamous ‘goal-post tackle’ which saw then Cowboys forward Scott Bolton run into the goal-post to prevent him from scoring what would have been the match winning try in the last few minutes of the game.
The Broncos hold the advantage over the Cowboys, winning 32 out of 50 total meetings, and 10 out of 15 meetings between the two sides at Suncorp Stadium.
There are a number of excellent matchups to keep an eye on in this one, but the key battle will be between the two tear away young forwards, Jason Taumalolo and Tevita Pangai Jr. Last week Taumalolo had an absolute monster of a game, running for 300 metres and setting up a try with one of his barnstorming runs. If he is allowed to reach such lofty heights again, the Cowboys will be very hard to beat. On the flip side, being promoted to the starting side could be just the opportunity Pangai Jr has been waiting for. He is about to go toe to toe with arguably the best ball runner in the competition, so he will need to be at his damaging best both with and without the ball if the Broncos are going to slow down Taumalolo and come away with a win at home.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 22nd of March
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Referees: Grant Atkins, Gavin Badger
WHO WILL WIN?
This rivalry always gets the best out of both teams, and every game these two sides seem to play turn into instant classics. Look no further than the 2015 Grand Final. This game will again be very closely contested, and will most likely come down to one or two plays to decide the game in the final few minutes. The Broncos traditionally tend to play better at Suncorp Stadium, so they should be able to bounce back from a disappointing round 1 loss to stop Jason Taumalolo and the big Cowboys forward pack in front of a packed home crowd. Broncos by 1.