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Five years ago, the Broncos and Cowboys staged one of the great grand finals of the modern era.

On Thursday night they meet again in a 14th v 16th clash that few would have predicted at the start of the season.

As bad as the Broncos have looked at times, they will join the Cowboys on eight competition points with a win.

If they lose and the Bulldogs also win this weekend, North Queensland will finish the year in a share of last place. That's motivation enough for the men from Townsville to finish the year with a victory.

The rundown

Team news

Broncos: The Broncos are 1-17. Kotoni Staggs is set to start at five-eighth, with Tyson Gamble dropping out after his head knock last week and Jesse Arthars coming in at centre. Prop Payne Haas has returned after a week off with personal leave bumping Ben Te'o to the bench and Ethan Bullemor to the reserves.

Xavier Coates will start on the wing with Corey Oates reverting to the interchange. Jordan Riki will return from suspension in the back row with David Fifita out injured. The Broncos have won five of their past six games against the Cowboys.

Bullemor and Sean O'Sullivan were cut from the reserves 24 hours before kick-off while Brodie Croft and Rhys Kennedy were omitted an hour before game time.

Cowboys: A late switch in the back row with Tom Gilbert to start and Gavin Cooper moving to the bench. Centre Daejarn Asi was ruled out on Wednesday with a knee injury and his place is taken by Justin O'Neill in jersey No.21.

Josh McGuire will return from suspension at prop while Jason Taumalolo is named at lock after getting through his injury comeback last week.

Corey Jensen and Francis Molo have reverted to the interchange alongside the returning John Asiata with Emre Pere and Ben Condon dropping out.

Jake Granville and Condon were the last two players cut an hour before kick-off.

The Cowboys have lost nine of their past 10 games at Suncorp Stadium.

Key match-up

Tom Dearden v Jake Clifford. It's never easy for halfbacks to shine when their forward packs are being outplayed. Dearden has provided one of the few bright points from the Broncos playing group this year. Clifford will be hoping to become a more consistent contributor in 2021. He and the Cowboys both need it. 

Stat attack

With seven wins between them in 2020, only two other sides (Dragons and Bulldogs) have fewer wins on their own. Even the Titans, for so long the strugglers among the Queensland sides, have eight wins in the shortened season.

2020 NRL Fans Poll

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