The North Queensland Cowboys will need to improve tenfold on last week’s performance if they are to upstage a confident Brisbane Broncos line-up at Suncorp Stadium. Join us for live scores and blog from 8:30pm AEDT.
After making a mammoth 28 errors last week in their 18-nil loss to the Gold Coast Titans, North Queensland will be desperate to move on from one of the most disappointing performances in their 18-year history
Neil Henry’s men, however, will have to produce a complete form turnaround if they are to defeat a young Broncos side coming off a grinding victory against the Parramatta Eels away from home.
Despite failing to score in the first half, Brisbane still showed enough class in wet conditions to eventually prevail 18-6 in last week’s season opener.
Moreover, new halves pairing Peter Wallace and Corey Norman will have gained confidence after guiding the Broncos to victory against an Eels team that led six nil early on.
Although the Broncos have won eight of the past nine clashes against North Queensland, one suspects that the Cowboys will come to life and provide Brisbane with some defensive problems tonight.
Matthew Bowen and Johnathon Thurston in particular were dreadful against the Titans last week and will most likely come out all guns blazing against Brisbane in a bid to rectify their bad form.
For Bowen and Thurston to fire, however, the Cowboys will have to win the forward battle against a Brisbane unit boasting one of the most mobile packs in the NRL.
Broncos veteran Petero Civoniceva returns from suspension to further strengthen a pack containing Test and Origin stars Sam Thaiday, Ben Hannent, Ben Teo, Corey Parker and Matt Gillett, who all performed strongly last week.
The Cowboys will have to make do Queensland Origin prop Matthew Scott, who has made a habit of producing big performances against Brisbane.
In his last match against the Broncos, Scott made an impressive 164 metres from 13 hit-ups last season, and the Cowboys will be looking to him for inspiration upfront.
On paper the Cowboys certainly possess the strike power to beat Brisbane tonight, but a repeat of last week’s error riddled performance will see the Broncos put on a cricket score at home.
On current form, the Broncos deserve to be warm favourites and a fast start will likely see them prevail against North Queensland.
If Thurston, Bowen and Scott however come to life, then one fancies the Cowboys to pull off the upset.
Cowboys by seven.