2015 Grand Final Preview

2015 NRL Grand Final

Broncos v Cowboys

ANZ Stadium, Sydney

Sunday, 7.15pm (AEDT)

 

After one of the closest NRL seasons on record, it comes down to two teams from north of the border – the Brisbane Broncos and the North Queensland Cowboys.

For the first time in NRL history, the game will see an all-Queensland affair on Grand Final day, with the Cowboys looking to lasso the Broncos in their attempt to snatch their maiden Premiership.

The 2015 decider will be the Cowboys’ second ever Grand Final appearance – their first since 2002 when they went down to the Roosters – while for Grand Final specialists, the Broncos, it will be lucky number seven, having previously won all six of their previous deciders (including the 1997 Super League Grand Final) and most recently in 2006 against the Melbourne Storm.

Brisbane are well placed to keep their Grand Final record intact, especially given that the man holding the reins is the man who orchestrated all of their prior successes in super-coach, Wayne Bennett, who also brought a Premiership to St George Illawarra in 2010. Victory on Sunday would notch up Premiership number eight for Bennett.

On the North Queensland side, Green by name, and green by nature, Cowboys coach Paul Green enters his first NRL decider as a Coach against his formidable counterpart, one whom he worked under as a halves coach under the master coach from 2005-2008. Green is well-placed in terms of understanding Bennett’s game and will no doubt use that to his advantage in preparation for the match.

The Stats

Played: 38

Broncos Victory: 26

Cowboys Victory: 11

Draws: 1

Against the Rabbitohs

The Rabbitohs played both the Cowboys and Broncos twice during the regular season in 2015, coming away with one win apiece against this year’s Grand Finalists – both in matches played away from home in Brisbane and in Townsville.

Re-live the victories by following the links below:

Highlights: Round 1 v Broncos

Highlights: Round 23 v Cowboys

 

Last Time They Met

The Broncos and Cowboys last came together in Week 1 of the Telstra Premiership Finals Series in a battle between second and third – the Broncos coming away with the win by 16-12

In front of a heaving Queensland crowd of 50,388, both teams managed to score two tries apiece in a match played in true finals intensity – two goals to Corey Parker ultimately proving the difference.

Throw in the defensive effort of Broncos forwards such as Andrew McCullough (64 tackles), Matt Gillett (49 tackles) and Sam Thaiday (42 tackles) and the Brisbane performance was complete, helping to advance the side to the Preliminary Finals.

Key Matchup

Johnathan Thurston v Ben Hunt: Playing alongside two five-eighths who are in scintillating form in Michael Morgan and Anthony Milford, the battle between Thurston and Hunt will no doubt be a match-defining tussle. Both men have been instrumental in their respective side’s advance through the 2015 season, and in many ways hold the keys to their success with their ability to not only direct traffic effectively around the field, but to create opportunities where none exist. Hunt is the master of taking on the line (10 line breaks and 12 tries) whereas Thurston’s influence on the game is as a conductor, orchestrating 33 line-break assists and 33 try-assists compared to Hunt's 15 and 16 respectively.