Johnathan Thurston after winning the 2015 NRL Grand Final
Johnathan Thurston after winning the 2015 NRL Grand Final

The 9 best Cowboys and Broncos clashes

It is the modern-day rivalry that is the NRL at its very, very best.

Once a virtual training run for the big brother Brisbane Broncos over the fledgling North Queensland Cowboys, the Queensland Derby has become compelling, must-see rugby league.

Electric end-to-end football, nailbiting finishes, dramas, controversy, golden point heroics and roaring comebacks.

They've simply had it all.

Ahead of this Friday's clash at Suncorp Stadium, here's a look back at some of the best battles for bragging rights in the Sunshine State.

 

Rival captains Johnathan Thurston and Justin Hodges embrace after the 2015 NRL Grand Final. Picture: Adam Head
Rival captains Johnathan Thurston and Justin Hodges embrace after the 2015 NRL Grand Final. Picture: Adam Head

 

2015 Grand Final: Cowboys 17 d Broncos 16:

The grandest derby of them all, on the game's biggest stage.

And the two Queensland clubs produced an instant classic with the NRL's first golden point grand final that finished with North Queensland's first premiership.

Johnathan Thurston's field goal in extra time was the iconic full stop on a rollercoaster ride that included Kyle Feldt's last-second try and Ben Hunt dropping the kick-off in golden point in front of 82,000 spectators.

 

Coen Hess scores the winning try for the Cowboys. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Coen Hess scores the winning try for the Cowboys. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

 

2018, Round 22 in Townsville: Cowboys 34 d Broncos 30:

Thurston's last Queensland Derby produced a rollicking nine tries and 14 goals.

Brisbane led 30-18 with 20 minutes to go but the Cowboys hit the lead in the 76th minute when Coen Hess scored from a Thurston grubber kick.

 

Scott Bolton meets the goalpost pad to deny the Cowboys victory. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Scott Bolton meets the goalpost pad to deny the Cowboys victory. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

 

2018, Round 2 in Brisbane: Broncos 24 d Cowboys 20:

The goalpost pad was the hero for Brisbane after it got in between the in-goal area and Cowboys prop Scott Bolton who appeared certain to score.

Brisbane led 24-14 with nine minutes left before the Cowboys staged their comeback that agonisingly fell short when Bolton cannoned into the goalpost in the dying seconds.

The Cowboys led 8-0 before Brisbane raced to an 18-8 advantage after just 27 minutes to set-up the grandstand finish.

 

The Cowboys players celebrate Johnathan Thurston’s winning field goal. Picture: Peter Wallis
The Cowboys players celebrate Johnathan Thurston’s winning field goal. Picture: Peter Wallis

 

2017, Round 2 in Brisbane: Cowboys 21 d Broncos 20:

Brisbane led 14-12 at halftime and scores were locked at 20-all at the end of 80 minutes. For the fourth time in their previous five meetings, golden point was requited to split the teams and it was a 30-metre Thurston field goal in the 88th minute that did the trick.

 

Michael Morgon scores the winning try in the 2016 semi-final. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Michael Morgon scores the winning try in the 2016 semi-final. Picture: Zak Simmonds

 

2016, Semi-final in Townsville: Cowboys 26 d Brisbane 20:

Broncos winger Corey Oates gave his side a 20-18 lead with 10 minutes left on the clock after a long-range 70m try. Scores were level soon after when Thurston slotted a penalty goal after Matt Gillett was pinged for tripping.

Five minutes into golden point, a Thurston flick pass to Michael Morgan handed North Queensland the win and ended Brisbane's season.

 

Johnathan Thurston celebrates his winning field goal. Picture: Ian Hitchcock
Johnathan Thurston celebrates his winning field goal. Picture: Ian Hitchcock

 

2016, Round 11 in Townsville: Cowboys 19 d Broncos 18:

Another thriller, another Thurston field goal. In his 250th first grade appearance, Thurston put the 75th minute icing on another Cowboys comeback.

Brisbane led 18-6 just after halftime but North Queensland roared back into the contest after tries to Lachlan Coote and Justin O'Neill.

 

Anthony Milford (No.6) punches the air after breaking Cowboys hearts in 2016.
Anthony Milford (No.6) punches the air after breaking Cowboys hearts in 2016.

 

2016, Round 4 in Brisbane: Broncos 21 d Cowboys 20:

In their first meeting since the 2015 grand final, the teams went to golden point again with James Roberts starring for the Broncos in his first derby appearance.

And it was Brisbane five-eighth Anthony Milford who provided the match-winning heroics with a 40-metre field goal in the 85th minute.

 

Anthony Milford celebrates with the Broncos fans after scoring a try. Picture: Adam Head
Anthony Milford celebrates with the Broncos fans after scoring a try. Picture: Adam Head

 

2015, Qualifying Final in Brisbane: Broncos 16 d Cowboys 12:

This cracking contest was the start of the magnificent modern-day rivalry.

A Milford try from a Kodi Nikorima line break was the difference on the night. Milford ran for more than 120 metres in a starring role for the home side.

 

Steve Southern, Mitchell Sargent and Leigh McWilliams leave the field victorious in 2004.
Steve Southern, Mitchell Sargent and Leigh McWilliams leave the field victorious in 2004.

 

2004 Semi-final in Townsville: Cowboys 10 d Broncos 0:

The Cowboys had never beaten Brisbane in the first 16 meetings between the clubs dating back to 1995. The closest they had come was 20-all draws in 1997 and 1999 (Allan Langer first retired after the draw in 1999).

But North Queensland picked a good time to break the drought, knocking Brisbane out of the finals race with a hard-fought 10-0 victory in their first-ever home semi-final at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

In what was Brisbane captain Gorden Tallis' last-ever game in the NRL, the Cowboys made the most of their first-ever top eight finish to win through to the preliminary final after upsetting the Bulldogs in week one of the play-offs.

Five-eighth David Myles was the lone tryscorer on the night with Josh Hannay booting three goals for the Cowboys.

News Corp Australia


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