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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
It's Queensland Derby time again as the Cowboys host the Broncos in Townsville on Thursday night at 1300SMILES Stadium.
The clash doesn't bring the highlights of previous QLD Derby's with the Cowboys trying to fight off the wooden spoon whilst the Broncos look to push back into positive f/a after shock defeat to the Bulldogs last week.
The Cowboys come into the game having lost five of their past six matches with their only win coming a fortnight ago in a come from behind victory over the Newcastle Knights. The Cowboys last weekend were defeated by the Roosters in a performance that saw the Cowboys complete all bar one set for the match and fall to a 26-20 defeat despite being comprehensively outplayed.
Despite having lost of five of their past six games, the Cowboys haven't been blown off the park having only been beaten by more than 20 points in one of their losses and that came against the Raiders. The Cowboys have been competitive in most games and their only other defeat over 13 points came against the Dragons where they were competitive for most of the game before the score blew out.
The Cowboys in 2018 have been a less potent side in attack in 2018 with the Cowboys scoring 76 less points after 21 rounds compared to 401 points in 2017. Defensively the Cowboys have been worse off as well conceding 431 points so far in 2018 compared to 359 points in 2017.
The Broncos are looking to bounce back to victory after their shock defeat to the Canterbury Bulldogs last Thursday night. Prior to last week's defeat the Broncos came off back to back victories over the Panthers and the Sharks.
The Broncos have won five of their past seven games with coming against the Warriors at home and against the Bulldogs last weekend when they fell to a 36-22 defeat after trailing 36-12 after just 55 minutes. The Broncos last week were below par completing at just 71% and making 11 errors.
The Broncos in 2018 sit in seventh spot after 21 rounds, having 433 points this season which is just 15 points less than what they had done at the same point in 2017. The biggest difference in the Broncos season from this to last has been their defence with the Broncos conceding 75 points more this season compared to last year.
Last meeting: Round 2 2018 - Broncos 24 Cowboys 20
The Broncos have won the past two clashes between the two sides although the Cowboys had won the previous three. Overall the Broncos have won 32 of the 50 games between the two sides.
Who to watch: Johnathan Thurston - The Cowboys half is coming to the end of his career and one of the biggest games, Thurston will play to finish his career. Thurston has had a poor season by his standards but he will no doubt want to replicate his heroics of the 2015 Grand Final where Thurston defeated the Broncos with a field goal in the grand final. Thurston will look to put an impressive performance in his last game against the Broncos.
Kodi Nikorima - The Broncos halfback has put in some indifferent performances over recent weeks after starring against the Titans and the Panthers. The Broncos halfback's credentials in the key position have been questioned and yet again Nikorima needs to prove himself as a long-term halves option for the Broncos.
The favourite: Despite their shock defeat last week, the Broncos are the heavy favourites.
My tip: The Broncos were completely outplayed last weekend by the Bulldogs and they will be looking to the bounce back factor to get the victory this weekend. The Cowboys were impressive statistically last week although they still looked outclassed by the Roosters side and it's hard to see how they can improve with an un-confident attack. Broncos by 8.
1. Te Maire Martin 2. Kyle Feldt 19. Gideon Gela-mosby 4. Kane Linnett 5. Justin O'Neill 6. Jake Clifford 7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Matthew Scott 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Ben Hampton 15. John Asiata 16. Corey Jensen 17. Scott Bolton
1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Gehamat Shibasaki 5. Jamayne Isaako 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 15. Patrick Mago 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Sam Thaiday 11. Alex Glenn 12. David Fifita 13. Joe Ofahengaue 8. Matthew Lodge 16. Korbin Sims 17. Kotoni Staggs 21. Tevita Pangai Junior
Referees: Grant Atkins, Peter Gough; Sideline Officials: Michael Wise, Phil Henderson; Video Referees: Ashley Klein, Ben Galea;