Brisbane Broncos forward Tevita Pangai Jr.

The Brisbane Broncos have ruined North Queensland’s housewarming party, prevailing 28-21 in the first match at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

Eight of the past eleven Queensland derbies had been decided by less than four points.

There was to be no repeat dosage for the 20000 strong crowd who attended the game in spite of the ongoing coronavirus scandal that has rocked the NRL.

The contest was dominated by Brisbane’s much touted forward pack, with Thomas Flegler, Payne Haas, David Fifita, Tevita Pangai Jr. and Patrick Carrigan all running for over 100 metres.

Jason Taumalolo and Jordan McLean were the only Cowboys to match their counterparts, running for 156 and 112 metres respectively.

It was far from an ideal start for the Cowboys, who put the ball out on the full from the opening kick-off, before losing Justin O’Neill in the opening minutes after a Pangai Jr. high tackle.

Broncos rake Jake Turpin opened the account with an audacious dummy, fooling two Cowboys defenders to stroll over for the first try at the new stadium in the eleventh minute.

Valentine Holmes lost the ball on his first touch back from the NFL and dropped a bomb in the opening stages, but later found his groove to open the Cowboys scoring.

The try came on the back of a sweet right-to-left shift that had fans and commentators alike reminiscing on his breakout 2017 campaign with the Sharks.

The game then descended into the end-to-end, fast-flowing style of play that clashes between these two sides are renowned for, with Kotoni Staggs and Kyle Feldt each crossing the line as the Broncos entered the sheds as 12-9 leaders.

Staggs was particularly impressive in the first period, linking up nicely with new recruit Brodie Croft before leaving the field early in the second half with cramps.

Following an early try from Pangai Jr., the Broncos gained the ascendency early in the second half through their completion rate, which sat above 85% through fifty minutes.

The game’s defining moment then came in the fifty-seventh minute, with David Fifita breaking through the Cowboys’ right-side defence and stepping past Valentine Holmes to score a sixty-metre epic.

Two late tries to Gavin Cooper and Ben Hampton threatened to provide the thrilling finish that fans were expecting, but a late Bunker reversal ended the Cowboys’ chances of a comeback.

Speaking after the game Broncos coach Anthony Seibold credited his side’s preparation, labelling tonight’s victory was one of the proudest of his career.

“I was really confident with the guys knowing and executing their roles… and there’s some really good signs that we’ve made a considerable improvement over the pre-season” Seibold said.

On the other side, Paul Green was unsurprisingly unimpressed with the Cowboys’ performance in what he described as an otherwise ‘great night’ for the region.

“Our starts to both halves weren’t good enough… we need to start like (how we finished) and not let the scoreboard affect our effort” he stated.

Brisbane will move on to face South Sydney at an empty Suncorp Stadium next week, while North Queensland will travel to Sydney to battle the Bulldogs.

NRL News Player of the Match:

3 Points – Tevita Pangai Jr – It was tough to single out any of the Broncos forwards tonight, but Pangai was the main man in the Broncos’ sixteen-point second-half run that sealed the game, running for 115 metres, setting up the Isaako try and scoring one of his own. The hit on O’Neill was the only negative point for ‘TPJ’, who may have difficulties with the judiciary this week.

2 Points – Payne Haas – Nothing special from Haas on the attacking front tonight, but he played over seventy minutes on an extremely warm Townsville night, running for 199 metres and making twenty-eight tackles. At just 20 years old, this kid could be special this season.

1 Point – Jamayne Isaako – A late mistake at the back to gift a try to Ben Hampton was the only sour moment in an otherwise solid night for Isaako at the back. He was in the seventeen jersey when teams were announced on Monday, but following tonight’s performance and the Jack Bird ACL injury, Isaako has booked his spot in the starting side for the foreseeable future.

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