The result sees the Broncos slip into a top four position, pending other results over the coming weekend. The Cowboys are four points adrift of the top eight and one round remaining.
Played in front of over 24,000 fans at Townsville's Dairy Farmers Stadium, the match was marked by two Broncos tries that had the locals howling.
Following a frenetic opening encounter, the Cowboys were first to score in the fifth minute when centre Willie Tonga intercepted a pass from Broncos skipper Darren Lockyer. Tonga raced over 30 metres to score in good position for a Johnathan Thurston conversion.
The Broncos struck back in the 17th minute through centre Israel Folau, the referee ruling a flat pass that had onlookers calling forward. Corey Parker's unsuccessful conversion attempt kept the Cowboys in front 6-4.
The Cowboys posted a half time 10-4 lead after a well placed kick from Thurston saw stand-in centre Luke O'Donnell race onto a loose ball to score just before the break.
The second half saw end-to-end play before the Broncos levelled the score through Alex Glenn in the 53rd minute, video referee Tim Mander giving 'benefit of the doubt' after Glenn appeared to lose control of the ball during the put down.
There was no doubt in the 62nd minute when Broncos winger Jharal Yow Yeh swooped onto a kick and raced over 60 metres, turning Thurston inside-out in the process. The try gave the visitors a 16-10 lead and the ascendancy.
The Cowboys however, never gave up. With their season on the line, the home side launched a final attacking raid in the dying minutes with a desperate cross-field kick from Thurston proving just too long for a flying Ashley Graham out wide.
Cowboys five eighth Grant Rovelli was forced off in the 47th minute, limping and then being assisted from the field by trainers.
Brisbane Broncos 16 def North Queensland Cowboys 10
Round 25 - Friday August 28th, 2009 07:35pm Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium Referee: Ben Cummins & Matt Cecchin
Sideline Officials: Russell Turner & Adam Devcich
Video Referee: Tim Mander Crowd: 24,332 Halftime: North Queensland Cowboys 10 Brisbane Broncos 4
North Queensland Cowboys 10
Tries: Willie Tonga, Luke O'Donnell
Goals: Johnathan Thurston (1/2)
Brisbane Broncos 16
Tries: Israel Folau, Alex Glenn, Jharal Yow Yeh
Field Goals: Peter Wallace (0/2)
Goals: Corey Parker (2/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about the Cowboys v Broncos Round 25 clash as it happens - forum discussion - click here!
COWBOYS: 1. Ty Williams 3. Ashley Graham 13. Luke O'Donnell 4. Willie Tonga 5. Michael Bani 6. Grant Rovelli 7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Shane Tronc 9. Anthony Watts 17. Manase Manuokafoa 11. Carl Webb 12. Scott Bolton 19. Steve Rapira Interchange: 10. Matthew Scott 14. Travis Burns 15. Steve Southern 17. James Tamou BRONCOS: 1. Karmichael Hunt 2. Antonio Winterstein 5. Israel Folau 4. Justin Hodges 3. Jharal Yow Yeh 6. Darren Lockyer (c) 7. Peter Wallace 8. Nick Kenny 9. Andrew McCullough 10. David Taylor 11. Tonie Carroll 12. Sam Thaiday 13. Corey Parker Interchange: 14. Lagi Setu 15. Ben Te'o 16. Alex Glenn 17. Ashton Sims
Great night after a hot day in Townsville, and capacity crowd. Cowboys playing for their season. Broncos playing for their chance at a top four spot.
Main change to the teams named on Tuesday is forward Luke O'Donnell being moved into the centres for Cowboys.
Teams on the field.... Broncos kick off and the match is underway! Breeze favouring Cowboys in the first half.
5 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Amazing try to Willie Tonga to give Cowboys the early lead. Cowboys charge down sees fullback Karmichael Hunt trying to run out the ball deep in his own territory. He passes to his skipper Darren Lockyer who then makes some good ground, still on the last tackle. Lockyer decides to pass rather than kick and Tonga is on the spot to take the intercept and run 40m to score next to the sticks. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 6-0
8 min: FIGHT - Broncos get the penalty right in front but opt to tap and run the ball. Broncos centre Justin Hodges warned for running in.
9 min: Cowboys repel the Broncos raid.
11 min: Lockyer kick on the last hits the posts, out of reach of everyone and goes dead. Cowboys survive again.
13 min: Cowboys turn to attack. Broncos just hanging on with Lockyer and Hodges covering.
14 min: Action a-plenty with a Cowboys centre Ashley Graham spilling a bomb. Broncos come within a whisker but will get the ball from the scrum.
15 min: Possible TRY to Broncos. Video ref looking... VERDICT...
17 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos Israel Folau gets the nod. Vid ref looks at offside, obstruction, and the put down, but can't rule on the possible forward pass to Folau. Locals not happy. Conversion attempt by Corey Parker hits the upright and is unsuccessful. North Queensland Cowboys 6-4
23 min: NO TRY - Cowboys denied after Thurston 'scores' under the posts. Thurston kick is caught in the slips by halfback Peter Wallace 7m out from his own line. Wallace runs it and then has the ball stolen by Thurston, unfortunately for Thurston he knocks on before scampering away.
27 min: Another bomb spilled by Graham. A second Cowboys player is there to clean up but is forced back over the line. It'll be a drop out and the Broncos will get a repeat set.
30 min: Cowboys now on the attack after getting a penalty right in front, opting to take the tap.
31 min: Broncos survive and will get a relieving penalty following tackle that was a tad high.
32 min: Broncos forward Ashton Sims tackled hard by Shane Tronc and loses the ball. Cowboys with another chance.... but Broncos last out the set and repel the raid.
35 min: Possible TRY to Cowboys. Video Ref looking... VERDICT...
36 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Stand-in centre Luke O'Donnell gets the green light after taking a loose ball on the full to score 10m in from touch. Follows bomb being contested by Broncos winger Antonio Winterstein and Graham, Winterstein knocking on in the air and into the arms of O'Donnell. Conversion attempt by Thurston unsuccessful. North Queensland Cowboys 10-4
Half time: Cowboys 10-4 Cowboys in the lead despite having to do a little more tackling. Possession pretty close to evens. Cowboys just doing more with the ball. Too close to call. We're in for a cracker of a second half.
Second half underway...
45 min: Both sides making a few handling errors in the opneing minutes of the second 40.
47 min: INJURY - Cowboys five-eighth Grant Rovelli goes down. He gets up to a limp before being assisted from the field.
48 min: Cowboys stepping up with back-to-back attacking raids. Broncos on the ropes before referee rules knock on against Thurston.
50 min: Another Cowboys raid, this time saved by Lockyer intercepting and defusing a dangerous movement.
52 min: Broncos with a penalty to get them down the Cowboys side of halfway. Cowboys penalised for a player picking up the ball in an offside position.
53 min: Possible TRY to Broncos. Video ref looking... VERDICT...
53 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos Alex Glenn gets BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT over a questionable put down. Great effort to get over the line, the Cowboys defence on the back foot after the Broncos opted to take the tap after getting a penalty right in front. Cowboys fans spewing after the ball appeared to leave the grasp of Glenn. Conversion attempt by Parker 15m wide of the posts is successful. 10 all
58 min: Tremendously well placed bomb from Thurston is taken beautifully by Winterstein out wide. Cowboys marker Travis Burns gives away a penalty in the play-the-ball, not standing square.
62 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos Winger Jharal Yow Yeh (wearing the #3 jersey) makes a sensational run of over 60m, picking up a kicked ball with pace and then stepping and weaving around Thurston, eventually turning the Cowboys #6 inside-out to score 10m in from touch. Conversion attempt by Parker successful. Brisbane Broncos 16-10
64 min: Broncos now with a repeat set after Thurston is knocked head over heels in the chase for the ball.
65 min: NO TRY - Broncos. Yow Yeh HELD UP. Broncos denied, desperate defence from O'Donnell and Graham out wide. Cowboys will get the ball back but are just hanging on.
67 min: Cowboys with a chance now after Yow Yeh is marched back 12m and back over the goal line by a determined defence. Broncos line drop out.
69 min: FIGHT - Cowboys penalty in their own half. Winterstein high tackle on Graham. Burns comes in rushing in to turn it into a dust up. Referee wisely sends the players back to their corners and awards the penalty without further incident.
78 min: Cowboys now attacking the line after winning possession and the scrum feed.
79 min: Cowboys with another scrum feed. Their season depends on the next movement.
80 min: Thurston chips into the corner. The ball just beats Graham, going into touch.
Full time: Broncos 16-10 Broncos scoring two tries to nil in the second half. Cowboys showing plenty of ticker throughout and will have a few calls to gripe about, but the Broncos too good in the end.