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North Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos Saturday 7:35pm at Queensland Country Bank Stadium

2015 feels like a lifetime ago for Queensland rivals

The North Queensland Cowboys and the Brisbane Broncos will face off on Saturday evening in an all Queensland affair at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

Showing tremendous improvement over the past month after beginning the year with four dispiriting losses, the North Queensland Cowboys will be determined to make amends for a costly opening last Sunday.

Trailing by 20 points at halftime before rallying in the second half to ultimately go down 24-20 to the Warriors on the Central Coast, coach Todd Payten will be stressing the importance of starting strongly and maintaining intensity throughout the course of 80 minutes.

Holding a strong record against the Broncos in Townsville with eight wins from their previous 12 fixtures over the past decade, the match will serve as the first time the Queensland rivals have faced off on a Saturday night during the home-and-away season since 2006.

Recalling Newcastle-bound halfback Jake Clifford in place of Ben Hampton (pectoral), Javid Bowen will make his comeback for the club in place of Justin O'Neill in the centres.

Producing the biggest comeback in the club's history to record a much-needed win last week, the Brisbane Broncos will be hoping to post back-to-back wins for the first time since the season shutdown 12 months ago.

Trailing the Titans 22-0 after 15 minutes only to run away with a 36-28 victory at home last Friday, coach Kevin Walters will be hoping his team's newfound confidence inspires further victories.

Playing spoilers at the opening of Queensland Country Bank Stadium last year with a 28-21 victory, the Broncos hold a slender lead winning six of their past 11 clashes against the Cowboys in the years following the 2015 Grand Final.

Keeping the faith with the squad that got the job done last week, the match will see halfback Tyson Gamble play consecutive matches in first grade for the first time in his career.

Last meeting: Round 20 2020 - Broncos 16 Cowboys 32

Who to watch: Enjoying a resurgence in the latter stages of his career, premiership-winning hooker Jake Granville has thrived under the coaching of Todd Payten this season. Transitioning out of the starting side to play an impact role similar to the one that started his career in Brisbane almost a decade ago, the 32-year-old Rockhampton junior has averaged 30 minutes of game time but made his presence felt. Providing bursts of energy against tiring defences and a knack for exposing opponents close to the try line, look for Granville to cause plenty of headaches for the Broncos on Saturday evening.

Enjoying a breakout season in a team that had little to celebrate last year, Broncos forward Patrick Carrigan has had a lesser, but nonetheless important, impact during the opening third of 2021. Averaging 126 metres and 35 tackles in just under an hour of game time each week, the 23-year-old stand-in captain has benefitted from the reduced workload under coach Kevin Walters after bearing the brunt of an underperforming side last year. Set to oppose Jason Taumalolo in the battle of the lock-forwards, Carrigan will be determined to get the better of his opposite number as the Broncos push to move within striking distance of the top eight.

The favourite: While a poor opening half left a lot to be desired last week, the form shown by the Cowboys over the past month has the home side favoured to come away with two points on Saturday evening.

My tip: With both teams starting poorly before finishing with a surge last week, the side that plays with the greatest consistency over the course of 80 minutes should claim bragging rights in the Queensland derby. North Queensland by 2.

1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Javid Bowen 4. Connelly Lemuelu 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Jake Clifford 8. Coen Hess 9. Reece Robson 10. Jordan McLean 11. Shane Wright 19. Mitchell Dunn 13. Jason Taumalolo 12. Ben Condon 14. Jake Granville 15. Lachlan Burr 16. Francis Molo 17. Corey Jensen

1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Xavier Coates 3. Herbie Farnworth 4. Jesse Arthars 5. Corey Oates 6. Anthony Milford 7. Tyson Gamble 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. Jordan Riki 12. Tevita Pangai Junior 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Danny Levi 15. Thomas Flegler 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Rhys Kennedy 19. Brendan Piakura

Referees: Chris Sutton; Sideline Officials: Nick Morel, Belinda Sharpe; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy;

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