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The Broncos and Cowboys might have been on the losers list last round but they arrive at Suncorp Stadium this week with their chests puffed out slightly after pushing the top two sides to the brink.

The Broncos only stumbled near the end against the Panthers 18-12, while the Cowboys hounded the Storm before slipping to a 20-16 loss.

While both the Broncos and Cowboys have the unflattering statistic of conceding 30 points a game in 2021, which has anchored them near the bottom of the table, that will mean little on Friday night.

Not only is pride on the line in this Queensland derby, both sides just want to win as many games as they can in the final six rounds to give another unusual COVID-affected season a feel-good end.

The rundown

Team news

Broncos: Teenage forward Xavier Willison has been promoted to the bench and will make his NRL debut on Friday with TC Robati dropping to 18th man.

“I feel it's the right opportunity for Xavier to make his debut for the Broncos,” Broncos coach Kevin Walters said on Thursday.

“He's been training really well, he's keen, he's a big young thing, so looking forward to seeing him get his first opportunity at NRL level.”

Rhys Kennedy has a minor back problem and failed to finish training on Thursday but will play.

Jake Turpin has been named at hooker despite breaking his thumb against the Panthers last week and will need to tick some boxes to play.

Danny Levi is on the bench as back-up for Turpin.

Albert Kelly and Xavier Coates were omitted from the squad 24 hours before kick-off. Jesse Arthars was cut an hour before kick-off.

The Broncos have won seven of their past nine games against the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium.

Cowboys: The Cowboys are 1-17 with no late changes.

Ben Hampton will play after he was held back from a return last week. 

Coach Todd Payten has stuck with the same starting 13 that pushed Melbourne all the way last start.

Peter Hola and Ben Condon were the first two players cut from the squad 24 hours before kick-off. Lachlan Burr was the last man cut an hour before kick-off and Daejarn Asi is 18th man.

Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt will make his 150th NRL appearance.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Broncos is number 1 Tesi Niu
    Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Jake Granville
  • Winger for Broncos is number 2 Corey Oates
    Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
  • Centre for Broncos is number 3 Kotoni Staggs
    Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Murray Taulagi
  • Centre for Broncos is number 4 Herbie Farnworth
    Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Connelly Lemuelu
  • Winger for Broncos is number 5 Jamayne Isaako
    Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Kane Bradley
  • Five-Eighth for Broncos is number 6 Tyson Gamble
    Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Scott Drinkwater
  • Halfback for Broncos is number 7 Brodie Croft
    Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Tom Dearden

Forwards

  • Prop for Broncos is number 8 Keenan Palasia
    Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Francis Molo
  • Hooker for Broncos is number 9 Jake Turpin
    Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
  • Prop for Broncos is number 10 Payne Haas
    Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
  • 2nd Row for Broncos is number 11 Alex Glenn
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Shane Wright
  • 2nd Row for Broncos is number 12 Jordan Riki
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Mitchell Dunn
  • Lock for Broncos is number 13 Kobe Hetherington
    Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo

Interchange

  • Interchange for Broncos is number 14 Danny Levi
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Tom Gilbert
  • Interchange for Broncos is number 15 Rhys Kennedy
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 Heilum Luki
  • Interchange for Broncos is number 16 Ethan Bullemor
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Coen Hess
  • Interchange for Broncos is number 18 Xavier Willison
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Ben Hampton

Reserves

  • Reserve for Broncos is number 17 Teui Robati
    Reserve for Cowboys is number 19 Daejarn Asi

Match Officials

  • Referee: Chris Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
  • Touch Judge: Peter Gough
  • Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall

Last updated:

Key match-up

Tyson Gamble v Scott Drinkwater: The two five-eighths bring contrasting styles to this head-to-head battle. Gamble is more aggressive while Drinkwater is all finesse.

But both have tremendous kicking games. And they have good lateral vision with Gamble racking up four try assists and five line-break assists to Drinkwater's 15 try assists.

Stat attack

Don't forget that since a field goal separated these two in the 2015 Grand Final, there have been four games in the next 12 decided by just one point; three by four points or less. These two Queensland sides brings out the best in each other.

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Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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