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.
North Queensland Cowboys 16 Brisbane Broncos 18
Venue: Willows Sports Complex
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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