BRISBANE BRONCOS v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Sunday, 4 October, 6.24pm (QLD)
REFEREE: Gerrard Sutton
ASSISTANT REFEREE: Ben Cummins
VIDEO REFS: Bernard Sutton and Luke Patten
TOUCH JUDGES: Brett Suttor and Steve Carrall
COWBOYS: 1. Lachlan Coote, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Justin O’Neill, 4. Kane Linnett, 5. Antonio Winterstein, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. Johnathan Thurston (c), 8. Matt Scott (c), 9. Jake Granville, 10. James Tamou, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Ethan Lowe, 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14. Rory Kostjasyn, 15. John Asiata, 16. Scott Bolton, 17. Ben Hannant, 19. Ray Thompson.
BRONCOS: 1. Darius Boyd, 2. Corey Oates, 3. Jack Reed, 4. Justin Hodges (c), 5. Jordan Kahu, 6. Anthony Milford, 7. Ben Hunt, 8. Sam Thaiday, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Adam Blair, 11. Alex Glenn, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Corey Parker. Interchange: 14. Jarrod Wallace, 15. Mitchell Dodds, 16. Jo Ofahengaue, 17. Kodi Nikorima, 18. Dale Copley.
- The grand final will see team No. 2 play team No. 3 based on ladder position at the end of 24 home-and-away-matches.
- The Broncos defeated the Cowboys 16-12 at Suncorp Stadium during week one of the finals.
- Since that match, the Cowboys have piled on 71 points and conceded just 12, with week 2 and week 3 finals wins over the Sharks (39-0) and the Storm (32-12).
- Sunday’s game will be the second grand final appearance for the Cowboys following their 30-16 2005 premiership loss to Wests Tigers.
- The Broncos have won six premierships: 1992, 1993, 1997 (Super League), 1998, 2000 and 2006.
- Four Cowboys players – Jake Granville, Ben Hannant, Kane Linnett and Ethan Lowe – have played in all 27 games this season. Gavin Cooper has played 26 games; while Lachlan Coote, Justin O’Neill, Jason Taumalolo and Antonio Winterstein have played 25 matches.
- Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough has played in all 26 of his team’s matches this season. Halfback Ben Hunt and edge forward Matt Gillett have played 25 games in 2015.
- Broncos halves Anthony Milford and Hunt have combined for 25 tries, 130 tackle-breaks, 30 line-break assists and 30 try assists in 2015.
- Cowboys counterparts Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan have 19 tries, 100 tackle-breaks, 42 line-break assists and 44 try assists.
- The Cowboys lead the league in metres made after contact (16,875m).
- The Broncos have won five of the past eight clashes between the two sides, and hold a 2-1 advantage in 2015.
- Both teams come into this grand final on two-match winning streaks.
- The Cowboys have scored 587 points this year, and have conceded 454 in 2015.
- The Broncos have scored 574 points and conceded 379.
- Winger Antonio Winterstein (16) and five-eighth Morgan (15) are the Cowboys’ leading try scorers this year.
- Of Broncos players lining up in the grand final, Milford leads all try-scorers with 13.
- Thurston has kicked five field goals in 2015. Milford has kicked three.
MATCH-UPS –The Captains
Multiple threads of compelling storylines set this match up to be one the great grand finals. And a good chunk of the narrative intrigue starts and ends with the three skippers – Cowboys co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, and talismanic Brisbane leader Justin Hodges. The Thurston-Scott combination has been a successful one for four years with the pair leading by example in their own ways. Thurston is the emotional heartbeat of his team and its chief shot-caller while Scott is more a leadership-by-actions sort of captain. That they work in tandem successfully is a testament to the positive attributes both men bring to the role. The Broncos’ Hodges is an emotion-charged leader whose final game in the National Rugby League is arguably his biggest. The emotions at play here – as his teammates want to send him off in the most fitting way possible – cannot be underestimated.
Paul Green: “I’ve really enjoyed the week (of grand final preparation) and I really think the boys have handled the week well.”
Wayne Bennett: “You want to get to this point of the week with as few distractions as possible.”
COWBOYS: Tautau Moga (knee); Hezron Murgha (knee) – season.
BRONCOS: Josh McGuire (achilles); James Gavet (knee); Elijah Alick (knee) – season.