Lachlan Jeffery reviews the Queensland derby between North Queensland and Brisbane
North Queensland Cowboys 40
Tries: Murray Taulagi 2 (15, 79), Griffin Neame (43), Kyle Feldt (47), Reece Robson (61), Jeremiah Nanai (65)
Goals: Valentine Holmes 8 (16, 20, 32, 44, 48, 62, 66, 80)
Brisbane Broncos 26
Tries: Corey Oates 2 (54, 74), Billy Walters (11), Selwyn Cobbo (76)
Goals: Adam Reynolds 5 (12, 26, 56, 75, 76)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
The North Queensland Cowboys have claimed a pair of regular season victories over the Brisbane Broncos for the first time since 2012 with a 40-26 victory at a sold-out Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Cowboys put plenty of pressure on the Broncos, with Adam Reynolds coming in for plenty of attention as he put in an uncharacteristically poor performance with the boot.
Despite the Cowboys having the best of the early ball, it was Brisbane who scored first in the 11th minute when Peta Hiku flung a wild offload over the head of Chad Townsend into the in-goal. Townsend’s attempt to get to the ball was unsuccessful as Billy Walters touched down.
The Broncos had done well to hold the Cowboys out for the first 15 minutes; however, they undid all that good work when they attempted to shift wide from deep in their own end and Murray Taulagi intercepted a Reynolds pass to score alongside the posts.
Reynolds, who was struggling with a rib injury and coming under enormous pressure from Jeremiah Nanai, followed his intercept up with a kick off and drop out both going out on the full in the space of 60 seconds, the latter giving Valentine Holmes the chance to put North Queensland up 8-6.
The Broncos evened the scores not long after through Reynolds after Ezra Mam was taken out attempting a chip-and-chase.
Mam attempted to lift his team with a 40/20, only to put it out on the full. A penalty for a strip in the ensuing set saw Holmes push the Cowboys back in front 10-8.
Despite some enterprising play from both sides, the score remained the same at the break as the Cowboys were largely unable to take advantage of more than 60% of possession and 26 tackles to none inside Brisbane’s 20.
HALF-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 10 Brisbane Broncos 8Embed from Getty Images
More pressure at the start of the second half finally paid off for the Cowboys as Griffin Neame crashed over under the posts from a simple hit-and-spin.
Having missed out twice during the first half, Kyle Feldt made it third time lucky when he crossed from a superb Scott Drinkwater pass.
The Broncos finally gained repeat sets on the Cowboys line midway through the half, with Corey Oates scoring on the left edge after Payne Haas was denied when four defenders to hold him up.
Any hope of a Broncos comeback was snuffed out with 15 minutes remaining as Reece Robson dashed over the line from the back of a scrum, followed minutes later by Drinkwater setting up a well-deserved try for Nanai as they took the score to 34-14.
With the game out of their reach, Brisbane was finally able to build some pressure on the North Queensland line, leading to tries to Corey Oates and Selwyn Cobbo inside the final six minutes.
It was the Cowboys who had the last laugh as Drinkwater shifted wide from a scrum at the death to set up Taulagi’s double and a 14-point win.
FULL-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 40 Brisbane Broncos 26
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Scott Drinkwater (Cowboys), 2 pts – Jeremiah Nanai (Cowboys), 1 pt – Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)
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