NRL Round 21: Cowboys v Broncos Preview & Betting Tips
The Cowboys’ season might be over but they can go a long way to ending Brisbane’s with a win in the Queensland derby.
North Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos – 1300 SMILES Stadium – 7:50pm
Another rough week for Cowboys coach Paul Green, his side easily dispatched 28-4 by the Tigers last week and then contending with media speculation over whether he’s still the right man for North Queensland.
Going back to his successful playing days, Green has always been an emotional character and not for the first time blew up at the officials post-game. While Green certainly has some merit in his complaints – particularly on an obstruction call to deny Kyle Feldt in the first half – the uncomfortable fact is the Cowboys were nowhere near the level needed in a must-win game. They completed at a woeful 66%, failing to capitalise on plenty of scoring opportunities.
The entire Cowboys backline each made at least one handling error and the return of skipper Michael Morgan didn’t pay the expected dividends. Jason Taumalolo was the only Cowboy forward to hit triple figures in metres gained and even it was “only” 126m, a significant drop on what the Tongan Tornado can achieve.
The Cowboys will now miss finals in consecutive years for the first time since 2010 and NRL is a cruel business to coaches. Michael Maguire became a folk hero at Redfern for guiding the Bunnies to their historic 2014 Premiership – yet was pushed out the door three years later.
The same rumblings about the Bunnies squad needing a “fresh approach” have started emerging in the press with North Queensland. Green will know the easiest way to take himself away from the speculation is a Cowboys win this week. Perversely knowing the finals are out of reach could free the Cowboys up for pressure-free footy. Any new approach is worth a shot after how their 2019 season has hit a brick wall in recent weeks.
Brisbane’s horror home hoodoo against Melbourne continued, their 40-4 thrashing stretching their losing streak at Suncorp with the Storm to 10 years.
After making great strides in chasing a top-eight spot over recent weeks, the Broncos were delivered a brutal reality check in how far they need to come under coach Anthony Seibold. Their heralded young pack never got going – the flood of points from the Storm prevented Brisbane from ever getting out of the blocks. Conceding a near 700 run metre advantage and completing only 21 sets against the soon-to-be Minor Premiers is a recipe for disaster.
Darius Boyd might be in the veteran stage of his illustrious career but as a rookie five-eighth, he was also taught a playmaking lesson by counterpart Cameron Munster. While Munster thrived off his pack and roamed freely to dissect Brisbane’s line, Boyd couldn’t provide any answers to get his side back into the contest.
It’s also fair to say in pre-season Broncos punters would have expected in round 20 for the then-Premiership contenders to be fielding a halves combination of Boyd and Jake Turpin. The Broncos are a work in progress but Brisbane demand success and now outside the eight, it’ll be up to Seibold’s side to turn things around once again in 2019 to avoid a humiliating finish outside the eight.
• Brisbane needs to overcome their horror Townsville trend, with a 1-6 recent record in North Queensland.
• The Broncos have won 9 of their last 10 first halves against the Cowboys.
• North Queensland have only won 1 game of their last 7 and haven’t scored 20 points in a winning performance since round 11.
Best bet: Broncos first half - $1.95* (TAB)
Value bet: Broncos first to 20 points - $2.35* (BetEasy)