The Broncos will be looking to round out the regular season on a high when they travel to Townsville.
Brisbane were beginning to look the like team most likely to test Melbourne for the premiership until Parramatta gave them a lesson at Suncorp Stadium last Friday night.
They were on the wrong end of a 52-34 scoreline which would’ve been the last thing they needed heading into Week 1 of the finals.
North Queensland won’t be any pushovers though as they are fighting for their premiership lives and would love nothing more than to seal a finals berth in front of their home fans. They come into this game having broken back into the winners circle with a 22-14 win over the Tigers in Campbelltown.
BASHED UP BRONCOS
Rarely has BRISBANE suffered a defeat like the one that they copped last week.
The margin was 18 points and while that isn’t a thrashing, the reality is that they were never in the contest after Parramatta blew them off the park early to lead 30-nil at the break.
It was only the second time that the Broncos had conceded 50 points or more in Queensland.
Although things were going pretty rosy for the Broncos prior to that, with the Ben Hunt experiment at nine proving relatively successful, it is a concern that they have put in a performance like that against a top four side earlier this season.
Remember the 42-12 thrashing at the hands of the Storm?
NORTH QUEENSLAND broke a four-game losing streak at just the right time last week.
The effort against the Tigers was one that contained plenty of heart and determination as the Cowboys were trailing the home side for a good portion of the game.
Getting the two points off the back of a three-try blitz late in the game ensured their finals fate is now in their hands, however, things are pretty tight at the bottom end of the eight which is where they are.
Penrith and Manly are on equal points with North Queensland (30pts) with those two sides playing each other this weekend.
The battle for spots in the semis could even come down to For and Against with the Cowboys, sitting in seventh, just 10 points better off than the eighth placed Sea Eagles at present.
The COWBOYS are aiming for a club record fourth straight win against Brisbane.
North Queensland has dominated this fixture in recent times but it’s worth mentioning that they had Johnathan Thurston in the side on those occasions. Paul Green’s men have been battered, bruised and broken this season which has severely impacted their finals chances.
This rivalry has gone to another level since the 2015 Grand Final with the average winning margin between the sides being just seven points in their past six encounters. Four of those have been decided by just one point!
A Brisbane win by 1 point here is returning a very healthy $31 @ Sportsbet.
We think BRISBANE will win this local derby and end their mini-hoodoo against the Cowboys.
Only the very best teams have been able to slice through the Broncos this season as easily as Melbourne did earlier in the season. Needless to say, it hasn’t happened to often in 2017 but Parramatta really surprised by how easy it was to break through the flanks of the Broncos outside backs.
That only happens if you have players like Vunivalu, Radradra, Jennings etc. North Queensland are a handy side but aren’t nearly as blessed in the outside backs as what those teams mentioned above are.
Adding to the case for the Broncos is the fact they get back Tevita Pangai Junior, Jos Ofahengaue and Jordan Kahu for this one but have lost Korbin Sims for the rest of the season.
Brisbane are one of the leaders in the NRL for metres gained which means we expect them to be camped for long periods into enemy territory and peppering the tryline.
They look to have too many guns across the park and should take the points here and wrap up a spot in the top three at the very least.
COREY OATES FIRST TRYSCORER – has scored eight tries in his past seven games