Broncos buck bumbling Cowboys

Brisbane prevailed in a tight contest scoring late through Justin Hodges to win 18-16 over North Queensland in front of 17702 fans at 1300SMILES Stadium tonight.

It was a week of turmoil for the Broncos with coach Anthony Griffin wielding the axe with Peter Wallace being dropped to the bench in place of Ben Hunt.

Hunt relished the opportunity to start for the first time in a while, providing a picturesque cut-out for Corey Oates before finishing the move himself for the opener.

The young five-eighth was involved again in the second four pointer starting the movement that included Scott Prince and Justin Hodges to send Corey Oates to give the Broncos an early 10-0 lead.

For the middle period of the first stanza the ball resembled a cake of soap in how long it spent on the floor between both sides. Defense played a role though as the Broncos repelled the Cowboys several times on their line.

Cowboys finally found some rhythm just before the break though as Thurston initiated quick hands to put Kalifa Fai Fai Loa in.

They reduced the deficit to four in the 53rd minute when Scott Bolton crashed over from a short ball from Johnathan Thurston. Momentum had swung the home side's way and was snowballing fast.

Six minutes later, they had a lead. The old firm for the Cowboys in Bowen and Thurston combined to send the former away for a 30 metre scoot to the white stripe. Brisbane had dominated the first hour of the contest but the Cowboys were coming home with a wet sail.

Johnathan Thurston kept pressuring the young Broncos line forcing dropouts but the final pass had disappeared for the home side. Fai Fai Loa and Linnett with errors close to the line.

It would be Thurston's fellow Queensland representative Justin Hodges who would take the game by the scruff of the neck. Going from dummy-half, he stepped and weaved carrying three defenders over for the winner.

Anthony Griffin was vindicated for the changes he wrought in his side while the pressure continues to mount on Cowboy's coach Neil Henry. Next week the Cowboys' task gets no easier when they host the Rabbitohs on Saturday night, while Brisbane travel to Hunter Stadium for a showdown with the Newcastle Knights on Friday evening.

Match Details
North Queensland Cowboys 16 Brisbane Broncos 18
Venue: Willows Sports Complex
Crowd: 17,702
Halftime Score: Brisbane Broncos 12-4

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Ben Hunt
2 points - Corey Oates
1 point - Johnathan Thurston

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (16)
Tries: Kalifa Faifai Loa, Gavin Cooper, Matthew Bowen
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (2/3)

BRISBANE BRONCOS (18)
Tries: Ben Hunt, Corey Oates, Justin Hodges
Conversions: Scott Prince (3/3)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary

Welcome to LeagueUnlimited's LIVE COVERAGE from 1300SMILES as it's an all QLD Derby as the Cowboys host the Brisbane Broncos in Townsville.

In team news for the home side the Cowboys, Ray Thompson shifts into the starting hooker position. This sees Anthony Mitchell move to the interchange bench.

Cowboys: 1. Matthew Bowen 2. Kalifa Faifai Loa 3. Brent Tate 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Johnathan Thurston (c) 7. Michael Morgan 8. Matthew Scott (c) 14. Ray Thompson 10. James Tamou 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Glenn Hall 13. Dallas Johnson
Interchange: 9. Anthony Mitchell 15. Joel Riethmuller 16. Ricky Thorby 17. Ashton Sims

Meanwhile for the Broncos, Mitchell Dodds replaces Ben Hannant with Dunamis Lui going onto the bench.

Broncos: 1. Josh Hoffman 2. Corey Oates 3. Alex Glenn 4. Justin Hodges 5. Lachlan Maranta 6. Scott Prince 7. Ben Hunt 16. Mitchell Dodds 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Josh McGuire 11. Sam Thaiday (c) 12. Matt Gillett 13. Corey Parker
Interchange: 14. Peter Wallace 15. David Stagg 17. Lama Tasi 18. Dumamis Lui
Both sides are out on to 1300 Smiles Stadium for the opening of Rivalry Round. Brisbane Broncos will kick-off and here we go!
3 min: Silly PENALTY against the Broncos on last and Cowboys right on the attack.
6 min: TRY BRISBANE BRONCOS
Scored by Ben Hunt. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful.
A nice cut-out found Corey Oates in some space, he shows and offloads to Hunt who has the simple task of heading in for the TRY. Prince with the simple conversion puts it over.
Brisbane Broncos 6-0
8 min: Oh dear, Bowen takes a slight look at the defence and spills it trying to return it.
13 min: Neil Henry is going to go grey with penalties like that. On the first tackle, off the chase they hold onto Josh Hoffman too long and are pinged.
16 min: TRY BRISBANE BRONCOS
Scored by Corey Oates. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful.
The Broncos have clicked tonight! Maybe it is the young blood, as Ben Hunt combines with Prince and Hodges to send Oates in! Prince from the sideline, continues the perfect start for the away side.
Brisbane Broncos 12-0
17 min: An early shift from the Broncos is undone with a forward pass!
VIDEO REFEREE: Going upstairs for a Matt Scott TRY and no Wati in sight.. checking grounding.
18 min: RED LIGHTS.. NO TRY! Ben Hunt, take a bow son. A lovely tackle on Scott who charged onto a Thompson short ball.
19 min: Gillett after some quick hands from the halves drops it. Cowboys right back on the attack now.
19 min: Yet.. Cowboys give it right back. Scott Bolton drops it off the scrum.
20 min: Cowboys have lost their way here.. conceded a PENALTY then add some back chat meaning they'll defending their line.
21 min: Nice grubber from Hunt trapped Bowen in-goal. Six more coming for a rampaging Broncos side.
22 min: Bowen forced to tap it dead again.. six more!
27 min: High shot against Scott Prince on Ricky Thorby.
29 min: Some good defence from the Broncos in that set led by Corey Oates who put a shot on Brent Tate. Lachlan Maranta knocked on the kick and is a full set for the home side.
30 min: PENALTY against Brisbane - holding on too long.
30 min: FORWARD pass! Anthony Mitchell with a forward pass in attacking territory. Cowboys shooting themselves in the foot.
32 min: Are we sure the ball hasn't been replaced by soap? Another error from the Cowboys right on halfway.
34 min: Peter Wallace is on replacing Anthony McCullough and he conceded a PENALTY for holding on.
37 min: TRY NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Scored by Kalifa Faifai Loa. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston unsuccessful.
Broncos invited them in and Cowboys sat down with a drink. Some quick hands earned them the overlap allowing Fai Fai Loa to stroll in. Thurston from the sideline with his first effort, misses.
Brisbane Broncos 12-4
38 min: Quick play the balls has Broncos on the back foot now! They concede a PENALTY for inside the ten.
39 min: Another PENALTY against the Broncos, Scott Prince's hand in the play-the-ball.
VIDEO REFEREE: Glenn Hall has crossed, just checking the put down.
39 min: RED LIGHTS.. NO TRY! Double Movement by Hall. PENALTY.
40 min: Justin Hodges mastermind's an effort from the Broncos but the final pass was FORWARD! HALFTIME.
40 min: Here we go for the second half! Can the Cowboys turn this around? or will their season and possibly the tenure of Neil Henry end tonight?
41 min: Kick-off! Broncos with the first set after the resumption.
42 min: Jeez that doesn't look very good! Josh Hoffman goes up for a high ball and collides with Kane Linnett coming off worse for wear. To add insult to injury, it is ruled a knock on. Cowboys ball.
42 min: Cowboys proceed to drop it on first.. Corey Oates with a massive hit.
45 min: Judged a Broncos knock on. The referee calls the captains in and PENALTY against Corey Oates for a legitimate tackle. He is ON REPORT but won't have anything to answer.
46 min: PENALTY for the Broncos, Ricky Thorby giving the referee a spray.
47 min: Cowboys conceding another PENALTY. Inside the ten.
49 min: Lovely work from Thurston grubbering one through to trap Hoffman.
VIDEO REFEREE: Going upstairs, checking grounding.
53 min: TRY NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Scored by Gavin Cooper. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
The pressure tolls on the Brisbane defenders. Thurston puts on a lovely short ball for Gavin Cooper to crash over. Thurston converts and it is a two point game.
Brisbane Broncos 12-10
54 min: Going to sound like a broken record but error from the Cowboys after points.
55 min: Followed by a PENALTY, markers not square.
56 min: Broncos with a knock on in an attacking position. Suspicions of a high tackle by Thurston.
58 min: Oates goes for a dash but knocks it on. Only blight on his game tonight.
59 min: TRY NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Scored by Matthew Bowen. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
A vintage move from Thurston and Bowen there! From the scrum, Thurston sets up the fullback to go the 30 metres needed to give North Queensland the lead for the first time. Thurston slots it through.
North Queensland Cowboys 16-12
62 min: Some miscommunication from the Broncos gifts the Cowboys a new set of six.
64 min: It wasn't how Thurston designed but they all end the same, dropout. Josh Hoffman who has been good tonight got mixed up with his hands, spilling it.
VIDEO REFEREE: Going upstairs after some mayhem and we're checking for a PENALTY TRY!
66 min: RED LIGHTS.. NO TRY! No penalty try just an error from Kalifa.
67 min: Suddenly the Cowboys have spiders on them! Broncos need to make some tackles.
68 min: Matty Bowen now, off the back of some quick play the balls forces another dropout.
70 min: Lather, rinse, repeat. Thurston on last stabs it through for ANOTHER repeat set.
71 min: Broncos hold on! Linnet tries to position his winger but it is spilled.
73 min: Broncos have made a mess of this allowing Winterstein to attempt to run 80 but he knocked it on. Broncos scrum 20 metres out.
73 min: Broncos have made a mess of this allowing Winterstein to attempt to run 80 but he knocked it on. Broncos scrum 20 metres out.
VIDEO REFEREE: Justin Hodges from dummy half just might have got the Broncos back into this. Checking grounding.
75 min: TRY BRISBANE BRONCOS
Scored by Justin Hodges. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful.
GREEN LIGHTS.. TRY! From dummy-half there is only one way to go and that is right ahead, defence knew that, he knew that but he evades three defenders to score. Scott Prince has stepped up for the vital conversion and put it over.
Brisbane Broncos 18-16
76 min: Sam Thaiday is down but crucially has dropped the ball. The referees have missed it! Play on Broncos.
80 min: PENALTY for the Cowboys! They will start the set 30 metres out.
80 min: FULLTIME :: Nothing happened on the last so Broncos hold on.
80 min: FULLTIME :: Nothing happened on the last so Broncos hold on.
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