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Schoolboy rivalry hits 1300SMILES Stadium

Two more chapters will be written into one of Townsville's greatest schoolboy rugby league rivalries on Thursday.

Kirwan State High School and Ignatius Park College will battle in the finals of both the Aaron Payne Cup (opens) and the Cowboys Challenge (under 15s) at 1300SMILES Stadium on Thursday afternoon before the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys clash with arch-rivals Brisbane at 7.50pm.

The two renowned Townsville rugby league nurseries had dominant campaigns during the round games of both competitions to set up mouth-watering showdowns on one of the biggest days on the North Queensland rugby league calendar.

The winner of the Aaron Payne Cup, North Queensland's premier schoolboy rugby league competition, will not only hold bragging rights for the next 12 months, but also earn top North Queensland seeding for the national NRL Schoolboys Cup.

Eight schools contest the APC with Kirwan and Ignatius Park joined by Mackay State High School, St Patrick's College Mackay, the Cathedral College Rockhampton, Rockhampton Grammar School, Emmaus College Rockhampton and St Brendan's College Yeppoon.

Ignatius Park come into the showdown looking to defend their 2017 title they claimed by toppling Cathedral College 30-14, although Kirwan will be heavily fancied to win Thursday's 2018 decider after scoring a heavy 30-4 victory when the two sides met earlier this season.

Both of Thursday's finalists have strong ties to the current Cowboys team with Michael Morgan, Coen Hess, Kyle Feldt and Corey Jensen all Ignatius Park alumni, while 2016 Dally M winner Jason Taumalolo and young gun Enari Tuala graduated from Kirwan.

"This is one of the greatest traditional local schoolboy rugby league rivalries we have in this region," Cowboys legend and competition namesake Aaron Payne said.

"Players from both schools make up a large portion of the players in our Cowboys Townsville Academy program. It's going to be a high-quality game of schoolboys rugby league.

"The competition gives these schools the opportunity to play against strong opposition before they head south to take on other rugby league powerhouses in the NRL Schoolboys Cup.

Aaron Payne

"Playing at 1300SMILES Stadium also presents a great opportunity for these young kids to play on the big stage".

The under 15s final will kick off at 4.05pm, with the Aaron Payne Cup final to follow at 5.25pm.

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.