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The Broncos were never seriously in the hunt in the season-opening loss to the Dragons, and perhaps the most troubling aspect of their performance for coach Wayne Bennett was the uncharacteristically poor attention to defensive detail.
Brisbane fans will no doubt expect a far more committed effort against the Cowboys, with fullback Lachlan Coote (hamstring) is an outside chance of returning. The Broncos won’t see prized off-season signing Jack Bird (shoulder) in action until round four.
Wayne Bennett has not hit the panic button despite his team’s heavy 34-12 defeat last Thursday night at Jubilee Oval. Andrew McCullough has been named to start at hooker for the Broncos, with Sam Thaiday shifted to prop. Tom Opacic replaces the suspended Jayd’n Su’A.
Te Maire Martin again starts at five-eighth for the Cowboys, with Michael Morgan (abdominal strain) not to be risked by Paul Green. Corey Jensen joins John Asiata, Coen Hess and Scott Bolton on an imposing four-man interchange bench.
The key match-up: Te Maire Martin v Anthony Milford. With Michael Morgan unlikely to play, it will be a battle between the five-eighths and whoever of Martin and Milford can rise to the top could decide the game.
For the Broncos to win: Easy. Limit Johnathan Thurston. Whether it’s by stopping the Cowboys’ forwards or pressuring him relentlessly, the Broncos must stop Thurston.
For the Cowboys to win: Execute well. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but the Cowboys need to convert more try-scoring opportunities into tries scored.
Broncos Stat Attack: They must improve their simple game against the Cowboys. They had 14 errors and 35 missed tackles against the Dragons. Their job won’t get any easier against the Cowboys’ massive pack, so the Broncos will need to improve.
Cowboys Stat Attack: The Cowboys only completed at 66 per cent against the Sharks; they’ll need to do better to beat the Broncos on home turf.