The Courier-Mail

Bron­cos race to­ward Sun­corp show­down

- CHRIS GARRY

THE Bron­cos and Cowboys are on a fi­nals col­li­sion course, with the tra­di­tional Queens­land ri­vals likely to square off in front of 50,000 fans at Sun­corp Sta­dium in a fort­night.

The Cowboys are guar­an­teed to fin­ish third this sea­son af­ter Satur­day night’s 14-6 away loss to Mel­bourne while Bris­bane are likely to fin­ish sec­ond as they are on 38 com­pe­ti­tion points along­side the Roost­ers but well be­hind on for and against.

Bris­bane’s only chance of a mi­nor premier­ship re­lies on beat­ing Mel­bourne on Thurs­day and then the in­jury hit South Syd­ney beat­ing the in-form Roost­ers on Fri­day.

Un­der the new fi­nals for­mat, week one will fea­ture first play­ing fourth and sec­ond play third in qual­i­fi­ca­tion fi­nals while fifth plays eighth and sixth plays sev­enth in elim­i­na­tion fi­nals.

The Bron­cos and Cowboys have never met at Sun­corp Sta­dium in the fi­nals.

The Cowboys have the wood over the Bron­cos in play­off en­coun­ters, win­ning all three.

Since Dar­ren Lock­yer re­tired, the Bron­cos have played two fi­nals games and they were both losses against the Cowboys in Townsville.

If North Queens­land are go­ing to con­tinue that form, they need ei­ther Michael Mor­gan to re­turn ahead of sched­ule or Ray Thompson and Johnathan Thurston to find a com­bi­na­tion quickly.

North Queens­land’s de­fence was ex­cel­lent but with a sig­nif­i­cant change to the spine and at­tack­ing struc­ture, there were al­ways go­ing to be prob­lems ex­e­cut­ing with ball in hand.

“We are not where we need to be in our at­tack,” Green said.

“The more time he spends there the bet­ter he gets at it and more com­fort­able he feels.

“We will see how Rob­bie (Lui) goes and re­view the game.

‘‘He can get him­self more in­volved but it was his first week play­ing in a key po­si­tion so it takes a bit of time.”

Co-cap­tain Thurston said he and Lach­lan Coote also needed to take more own­er­ship of the at­tack.

The Cowboys’ last reg­u­lar sea­son game – against the Ti­tans on Satur­day night – will give them a per­fect plat­form to fine tune set plays.

“Our at­tack has been the fore­front of our game this sea­son but that’s where we off prob­a­bly 10 per cent (against Mel­bourne),” said Thurston said.

‘‘We all need to be bet­ter in that area.”

Green also lamented the Cowboys’ travel sched­ule lead­ing into the fi­nals.

“It is def­i­nitely a fac­tor,’’ Green said.

‘‘New Zealand last week, Mel­bourne this week, they are not easy trips to do.

“The club took as many steps as pos­si­ble to coun­ter­act the amount of travel we did.

“We are not go­ing to use that as an ex­cuse but it is a chal­lenge we have that some clubs don’t have.”

 ??  ?? SU­PER SIGN­ING: An­thony Mil­ford has lifted the Bron­cos’ at­tack in his first sea­son at the NRL club. Pic­ture: Mark Evans
SU­PER SIGN­ING: An­thony Mil­ford has lifted the Bron­cos’ at­tack in his first sea­son at the NRL club. Pic­ture: Mark Evans
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