Broncos race toward Suncorp showdown
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.”