Cormac Pearson previews one of the greatest modern rivalries in the NRL as the Cowboys host the Broncos in the XXXX Derby in Round 21.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Cowboys have fallen away since their huge upset win against the Roosters, losing to Souths, the Sharks and monstered by the Tigers in Sydney. The Tigers’ loss was especially disappointing as the Cowboys struggled to complete and get into the game. The Cowboys are still mathematically in the hunt for the eight, but need this win to keep their slight hopes alive.
The Broncos weren’t in the fight last week, dominated by Melbourne at home. The 36-point loss came at a poor time as the Broncos are looking to sneak their way into the eight.
Surprisingly only one change to the Cowboys as Murray Taulagi moves out for returning speedster Gideon Gela-Mosby. Coen Hess remains out of position at centre with Enari Tuala sitting on the sidelines again this week.
North Queensland squad: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Coen Hess 4. Tom Opacic 5. Gideon Gela-Mosby 6. Michael Morgan 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh McGuire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Shane Wright 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. John Asiata 15. Matt Scott 16. Scott Bolton 17. Francis Molo 18. Peter Hola 19. Reuben Cotter 20. Corey Jensen 21. Murray Taulagi.
Alex Glenn is the only omission this week for Brisbane, as the man with the best name in the NRL (Gehamat Shibasaki) replaces him in the centres. Jamayne Isaako and Corey Oates switch between left and right winger.
Brisbane squad: 1. Anthony Milford 5. Jamayne Isaako 18. Gehamat Shibasaki 3. Kotoni Staggs 2. Corey Oates 6. Darius Boyd 7. Jake Turpin 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Payne Haas 11. David Fifita 12. Tevita Pangai Jr 13. Joe Ofahengaue 14. James Segeyaro 15. Thomas Flegler 16. Rhys Kennedy 17. Patty Carrigan 19. Herbie Farnworth 21. Shaun Fensom
HEAD TO HEAD
We all know about some of the famous battles these two sides have had in the past. We remember Milford’s 40 metre drop goal, Jonathan Thurston’s flick pass to Morgan in extra time and, of course, a grand final try on the siren and a kick into immortality for Thurston. There is no doubt the Queenslanders step up when they play each other and they will again this weekend.
While the Broncos have won 30 of their 47 clashes, they certainly aren’t the bigger brother anymore. Recently, it has been split down the middle, with each winning five of their last ten against the other. Eight of these games have been decided by less than six points. There is a finals spot on the line so get out your XXXX Golds, sit back and enjoy the Derby.
If you are a fan of rugby league you will be a fan of the battle of the big men, Jason Taumalolo and Tevita Pangai Jnr. Last time these sides faced, Pangai Jnr left the field as the next million dollar man. He was on a mission to disrupt the game’s best lock and it worked, sizing up to JT and eventually causing him to leave the field. Since then Pangai has continued to lead the Broncos’ pack but can fall out of games. The Tongan international will be looking to one up his Tongan teammate and make a big difference on Thursday night.
Now to the new JT, it’s been just another year for the 26-year-old star as he averages a staggering 207 metres a game, totalled at just under 3000 metres. The big man is the NRL’s hardest player to tackle but will be looking to inspire his team to a much-needed win. Although there may be another match he will be desperate to win, the physical one against Pangai Jnr. There will be a target on him after their round two clash and it will make for some jaw-dropping viewing.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: August 8th, 2019.
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium.
Kick-off: 7:50pm AEST.
Referee: Matt Cecchin and Gavin Badger.
WHO WILL WIN?
No matter the result I predict big hits, drama, slick plays and a Kyle Feldt try. The Cowboys will rally after a tough loss and edge the Broncos by a point.
Cowboys by one.