The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys were bested in the Bundaberg mud as the Brisbane Broncos triumphed 40-22 in their trial match in soggy conditions at Salter Oval.
Featuring 2015 grand final-winning forwards Ben Hannant and Scott Bolton – and joined by a mixture of NRL and under-20s squad members and Intrust Super Cup talent – the Cowboys didn’t handle the wet conditions as well as their opponents, who raced in seven consecutive second-half tries as rain fell sporadically throughout the game.
The Cowboys opened the scoring after four minutes as teenage talent Kalyn Ponga pounced on a loose ball and raced away 30m to score.
With a glut of possession, the Cowboys continued to enjoy good field position, with hard-working hooker Josh Chudleigh diving over from dummy-half to extend the lead to 10-0 after Bundaberg product Kyle Laybutt converted.
The Broncos hit back with two tries within five minutes as Greg Eden and Aaron Whitchurch crossed and that early lead quickly evaporated.
Regaining composure and field position, the Cowboys hit back through Mackay Cutters winger Jack Creith, who was on the end of slick passing from Laybutt, Jahrome Hughes and Shaun Hudson.
Laybutt potted the conversion from the sideline for a 16-10 lead.
Hughes then produced some individual brilliance moments later as he latched on to a Laybutt bomb and raced away to extend the lead to 22-10, which would be the score at half time.
The break proved a fillip for the Broncos, who raced in two quick tries – to Marion Seve and a second to Eden – to trail by only 22-20 just seven minutes into the second stanza.
A third try in succession to the Broncos saw them take the lead with 22 mins remaining as Jordan Kahu pounced on a loose ball from a Cowboys handling error.
Whitchurch slid over for his second try with 20 minutes remaining as the Broncos continued to flex their muscle and make the most of their possession.
Despite Parker’s unsuccessful conversion, a 22-10 half-time Cowboys lead turned into a 30-22 Broncos advantage in stunning fashion.
Brisbane continued to dominate the second half with new recruit James Roberts scoring the Broncos’ fifth straight four-pointer following Parker being held up the play before.
Further tries to Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima continued the second-half carnage with the Broncos leading 48-22 with seven minutes remaining.
A consolation Cowboys try to Mackay Cutters player Patrick Mago late in the game was where the scoring ended as the Broncos sealed a big trial win.
Their next meeting will be in round 4 of the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership at Suncorp Stadium on Friday 25 March, while the Cowboys will host the Broncos at 1300SMILES Stadium in round 11 on Friday 20 May.
BRISBANE BRONCOS 48 (Greg Eden 2, Aaron Whitchurch 2, Marion Seve, Jordan Kahu, James Roberts, Anthony Milford, Kodi Nikorima tries; Corey Parker 3, Kahu 3 goals) def NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS 26 (Kalyn Ponga, Josh Chudleigh, Jack Creith, Jahrome Hughes, Patrick Mago tries; Kyle Laybutt 3 goals) at Salter Oval, Bundaberg.