Brisbane have run out convincing winners over North Queensland 29-10, announcing themselves as early premiership contenders with a explosive second half performance at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
The Broncos ran in three tries in quick succession just after halftime to down a lackluster Cowboys outfit, effectively taking the game away from Paul Green's men with half an hour left in the match.
NSW Blues hopeful Tevita Pangai was the star for the home side, with a dominant display in attack and defence, where he put Cowboys enforcers Jason Taumalolo and former teammate Josh McGuire on their backs with some aggressive defence. Pangai also charged over for a try himself and had a hand in two others, in a display that surely had Blues coach Brad Fittler's undivided attention.
The loss for the Cowboys was further soured by injuries to winger Nene MacDonald, and in a potentially devastating blow for the Townsville based side, marquee forward Taumalolo suffering a suspected medial ligament injury, which could see the Tongan International spend some time on the sidelines.
The Queensland Derby is habitually a classic contest and with the Cowboys pinching two of the Broncos favourite sons in Josh McGuire and Jordan Kahu in the off-season, there was plenty of feeling prior to kickoff.
Straight from the opening whistle both forwards packs led by Pangai from the Broncos and former teammate Josh McGuire wearing the unfamiliar Cowboys colours, opened up a very entertaining tit for tat of big hits on their respective opponents, which had the crowd enthralled from the outset.
It was the Broncos prop Pangai who helped open the scoring, when the Tongan International skittled two defenders close to the line, before finding his centre Jack Bird, who found winger Corey Oates to score and give the home side an early 6-0 lead following Jamayne Isaako's conversion.
The Cowboys then switched on, dominating possession in their own half. However, the Broncos pushed the boundaries with the referees, giving away an astonishing four penalties in a row without receiving a sin bin for slowing down the Cowboys at the play the ball. Brisbane managed to hang on and keep 13 men on the field, before winger Isaako broke away downfield, which ended with James Roberts kicking for centre partner Jack Bird. Luckily for the visitors, winger Javid Bowen was there to save the day.
Off the next set however, it was a leaping Isaako who took a spectacular catch in the air before offloading to David Fifita, who found the speedster Jimmy Roberts who then strolled over for the Broncos second try of the night.
The Broncos went into the break with a solid 10-0 lead but came out breathing fire in the second half, effectively blowing the Cowboys off the park. Blockbusting winger Corey Oates bagged his second tr of the night when Kodi Nikorima and Jack Bird combined on the left hand side.
Man of the Match Tevita Pangai then followed up a strong run from rookie prop Tom Flegler who was held up over the line. The explosive prop then powered through multiple Cowboys defenders to score and extend his side's lead by 20 points.
James Roberts then followed Oates' path, scoring his second try off the back of another strong Pangai run to put the Cowboys out of the game.
Former Bronco Jordan Kahu then gave the Cowboys a glimmer of hope, scoring in the corner with 20 minutes to go, however an Andrew McCullough try off a dubious Kotoni Staggs pass put the game to bed.
Cowboys centre Justin O'Neil grabbed a late consolation try for the visitors, but Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford then kicked a field goal before the siren, to blow out the score to 29-10 for the home side in a commanding victory in new coach Anthony Seibold's first Queensland Derby appearance with the clipboard.
Brisbane now set their sights on the struggling Dragons next Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium, where they will look to build on their impressive performance.
North Queensland will now be sweating on scans on Jason Taumalolo's knee in the next few days, before they face the Cronulla Sharks back in Townsville next Saturday.