Johnathan Thurston | Photo: Scott Davis © NRL Photos

NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS V BRISBANE BRONCOS
7.50pm, Friday 20 May, 1300SMILES Stadium

Referees: Ben Cummins, Chris Sutton
Review officials: Bernard Sutton, Luke Patten, Jared Maxwell
Touch judges: Michael Wise, Nick Beashal

Cowboys: 4th (seven wins, three losses): 14 points
Broncos: 1st (eight wins, two losses): 16 points


TEAMS

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 Patrick Kaufusi, 16 Scott Bolton, 17 Ben Hannant. Coach: Paul Green.

Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd, 2 Corey Oates, 3 Jack Reed, 4 James Roberts, 5 Jordan Kahu, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Ben Hunt, 8 Josh McGuire, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Adam Blair, 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Matt Gillett, 13 Corey Parker (c). Interchange: 14 Jarrod Wallace, 15 Sam Thaiday, 16 Joe Ofahengaue, 17 Kodi Nikorima. Coach: Wayne Bennett.


CASUALTY WARD

Cowboys: Sam Hoare (knee/shoulder) – season
Broncos: Lachlan Maranta (knee) – Round 12


MATCH FACTS

  • Tonight’s big clash is a 1 v 4 on the NRL ladder, but these two teams have the best points differential in the comp, with the Broncos at +159 and the Cowboys at +139.

  • The Cowboys have a perfect 5-0 record at 1300SMILES Stadium this year while Brisbane's only two losses in 2016 have come away from home.

  • The Cowboys have scored a total of 47 tries in 2016 to the Broncos’ 46, but Brisbane have conceded 19 tries to North Queensland’s 21.

  • The Broncos have been completing at an impressive 80% in 2016 to the Cowboys’ 77%.

  • Try-wide, the Brisbane side have scored 27 of their 46 tries from close range (0-20m out), 14 from medium range (21-50m) and five from long range (51-100m).

  • By comparison, the Cowboys loving scoring from close range: 35 of their 47 four-pointers are from this distance, 11 from midfield and just one from long range.

  • The past two matches between these sides have resulted in golden-point victories: 17-16 to the Cowboys in the 2015 grand final and 21-20 to the Broncos in Round 4 this year.

  • The biggest win by the Cowboys over the Broncos was a 36-4 triumph in Brisbane in 2006. The Broncos downed the Cowboys 58-4 in 1998, also in the state’s capital.

  • Head-to-head, the Broncos lead the Cowboys 30 wins to 12, with two matches drawn.

  • The past eight matches between the sides have been four wins apiece.

  • Jason Taumalolo averages 156 running metres from just over 40 minutes of football to lead this category within players on both teams.

  • Broncos back-rower Matt Gillett is the tackles leader with 36 per match.

MATCH UPS – COREY PARKER v JASON TAUMALOLO 

Wily veteran versus young tearaway is the clash of styles by the two men in the middle of the park and wearing the No.13 jerseys for their respective teams.

Broncos captain Corey Parker has it all: experience, toughness, guile, a high workrate and a dangerous offload.

He is his team’s forward leader and an inspiration to his teammates.

Taumalolo is a 133kg, 191cm ball of power, among the best metre earners in the game and almost impossible to stop one-one-one.

His footwork at the line makes him all that more difficult to handle and coach Paul Green gets maximum value from the minutes Jason plays.


FINAL WORD

Cowboys coach Paul Green: “We’re starting to build up a pretty healthy rivalry against the Broncos. It’s pretty exciting and should be good.”

Broncos coach Wayne Bennett: “It is a fine line they play on, guys like Blairy (Adam Blair) … sometimes they cross the line. They get picked up for it when they do and that is when they cop a suspension.”