North Queensland turned on the style to score an emphatic 33-16 win over their Queensland rivals and eliminate the Broncos from the competition in Week One of the finals last season.
Led superbly by veteran fullback Matt Bowen and young half Michael Morgan, who both played starring roles, the Cowboys shot out of the blocks to stun the visitors with Bowen scoring a spectacular try after just four minutes from a remarkable inside pass by Ashley Graham.
Morgan then added two tries in quick succession – the first after Josh Hoffman spilled a bomb on his own tryline and the second when he chased through a Bowen grubber and pulled in the ball one-handed to race away untouched.
Trailing 18-0 at the break, Brisbane finally opened their account after Corey Norman sliced through from 30 metres out to score, but Bowen wasn’t done as he punished the Broncos for a lazy kick-chase with a scything run before giving Brent Tate an easy passage to the tryline.
And although two quick Brisbane tries gave them a sniff at 26-16, their hopes were dashed when Morgan completed his hat-trick as he dummied his way over with five minutes remaining. Bowen capped the win with a late field-goal.
The Cowboys enjoyed 57 per cent of possession, made a whopping 1640 metres to Brisbane’s 1190 and 92 hit-ups to just 62 from the Broncos.
Matt Scott was superb up front for the home side with 221 metres and 21 tackles to his name while Bowen added 117 metres, two try assists, six tackle-breaks and 365 kick metres. Andrew McCullough and Sam Thaiday each contributed 45 tackles for Brisbane.