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.
Match: Broncos v Cowboys
Round 20 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
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.
Match: Broncos v Cowboys
Round 20 -
Fullback for Broncos is number 1 Tesi NiuFullback for Cowboys is number 1 Jake Granville
Winger for Broncos is number 2 Corey OatesWinger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
Centre for Broncos is number 3 Kotoni StaggsCentre for Cowboys is number 3 Murray Taulagi
Centre for Broncos is number 4 Herbie FarnworthCentre for Cowboys is number 4 Connelly Lemuelu
Winger for Broncos is number 5 Jamayne IsaakoWinger for Cowboys is number 5 Kane Bradley
Five-Eighth for Broncos is number 6 Tyson GambleFive-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Scott Drinkwater
Halfback for Broncos is number 7 Brodie CroftHalfback for Cowboys is number 7 Tom Dearden
Prop for Broncos is number 8 Keenan PalasiaProp for Cowboys is number 8 Francis Molo
Hooker for Broncos is number 9 Jake TurpinHooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
Prop for Broncos is number 10 Payne HaasProp for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
2nd Row for Broncos is number 11 Alex Glenn2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Shane Wright
2nd Row for Broncos is number 12 Jordan Riki2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Mitchell Dunn
Lock for Broncos is number 13 Kobe HetheringtonLock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange for Broncos is number 14 Danny LeviInterchange for Cowboys is number 14 Tom Gilbert
Interchange for Broncos is number 15 Rhys KennedyInterchange for Cowboys is number 15 Heilum Luki
Interchange for Broncos is number 16 Ethan BullemorInterchange for Cowboys is number 16 Coen Hess
Interchange for Broncos is number 18 Xavier WillisonInterchange for Cowboys is number 17 Ben Hampton
Reserve for Broncos is number 17 Teui RobatiReserve for Cowboys is number 19 Daejarn Asi
- Referee: Chris Sutton
- Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
- Touch Judge: Peter Gough
- Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall
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.
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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