North Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos
Friday, September 16, 8pm (AEST), 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville
|Best Bet: Under 35.5 ($1.90)
Other: Brisbane +6.5 ($1.90)
Brisbane +6.5/Under 35.5 ($3.50)
The most compelling matches over the last two seasons have featured North Queensland and Brisbane including last year’s epic decider that is arguably the greatest Grand Final ever played. The Cowboys and the Broncos meet again with it all on the line again in what shapes as another classic.
Javid Bowen replaces the injured Kane Linnett for North Queensland. Tom Opacic is back for Brisbane with Jonas Pearson out.
The recent history between the Cowboys and Broncos is truly incredible with North Queensland defeating Brisbane by a single point in last year’s Grand Final. The last three matches between the two teams have been decided by just a field goal while 7 of the last 11 have been decided by a try or less. Brisbane hold a 30-13-2 all-time edge but the Cowboys have won 4 of the 5 finals between the two teams. The last 10 between the Cowboys and Broncos have been split evenly though North Queensland have won four straight and 6 of 7 in Townsville with five of those by double digits. The Broncos have never eliminated the Cowboys from the NRL finals series. Cowboys players Antonio Winterstein, Jake Granville and Ben Hannant are all former Broncos. Justin O’Neill has scored six tries in 10 games against the Broncos.
North Queensland finished fourth on the ladder with a 15-9 record and a +229 differential. They had won three straight before losing 16-10 to the Storm in Melbourne on Saturday. They finished the year ranked second in attack (24.3ppg) and defence (14.8ppg). Since Round 11 though the Cowboys have ranked ninth in attack (21.0ppg) and second in defence (15.4ppg). Brisbane finished the season in fifth position with a 15-9 record and a +120 differential. They finished the year with the sixth best attack (23.1ppg) and the fourth best defence (18.1ppg) though since Round 11 they have fallen to 7th in attack (21.5ppg) and ninth in defence (23.0ppg). They have won six straight but enter this off a decidedly unimpressive 44-28 home finals win over the Titans. They are 3-2 against Top 8 teams this year.
Johnathan Thurston v Ben Hunt. The history between these two is immense. Last year’s Grand Final etched Thurston into immortality while it has shaken Hunt to the core. Thurston finds his best for Brisbane and will need to after just a fair performance against the Storm. Hunt’s form has been on a southern trajectory all year. He needs to turn it around and quick.
Stats That Matter
North Queensland are 13-12 ATS with a 15-10 under number while Brisbane are 12-13 ATS with a 13-12 over record. North Queensland have gone under in 8 of their last 10 while Brisbane have covered 4 of their last 5. Since 2008 Brisbane are 8-6 ATS in finals matches while North Queensland are 7-4 ATS. Since 2008 finals matches have gone under at a rate of 57%. Finals teams off a double digit win are 38-39 ATS with a 50-27 under record. Road teams in finals who scored 40 last start are 4-2 ATS with a 5-1 under record while outsiders who scored 40 are 5-2 ATS with a 6-1 under record. Finals teams who conceded 25-plus the week prior are 7-13 ATS with a 13-7 under number. The under is 56-36 when a finals team conceded 16 or fewer the week prior. Since 2008 in the second week of the finals home teams are 11-5 with a 10-6 ATS record and an average winning margin of 10.88. North Queensland are 22-16 ATS at home since 2014 but are just 3-3 ATS when favoured by 6 or less. Since ’14, home favourites of 6 or less cover at just 43% while those off a loss cover at just 38%. Brisbane are 16-9 ATS as an underdog over the last three years including a 9-3 ATS record since Wayne Bennett returned, covering all five when getting a start of 4 or more. Brisbane have covered just 3 of their last 10 road games. The over is 20-7 over the last three seasons when the Cowboys are on a backup of 6 days or less.
North Queensland are a perfect 14-0 when leading at halftime this year. Brisbane are 14-2 when leading at halftime this year.
These two have a penchant for classics and there is no reason to expect anything different here. And as such there are strong bets on both the under and the plus. The under has plenty of angles here, primarily finals teams off double digit wins but also finals teams off big attacking performances. And with three straight games decided by a single point, it is most exciting to be getting a converted try for the Broncos. They were again poor in victory last week but they got the job done and usually bring their best for the Cows.
How It’s Shaping Up
North Queensland by 1
Under 35.5 ($1.90)
Brisbane +6.5/Under 35.5 ($3.50)
Best First/Last Tryscorer
Anthony Milford ($15.00)
Other Recommended Bets
Brisbane +6.5 ($1.90)