KEY MATCH-UPS FOR THE NRL PREMIERSHIP DECIDER:
NRL GRAND FINAL:
Sunday October 4
Brisbane Broncos v North Queensland Cowboys, ANZ Stadium, 7.15 (AEDT)
* 2015 results: Broncos 44 bt Cowboys 22, round three at Suncorp Stadium; Cowboys 31 bt Broncos 20, round 10 at 1300 Smiles Stadium; Broncos 16 bt Cowboys 12, finals week one at Suncorp Stadium
MATT SCOTT v ADAM BLAIR
These two front-rowers have been crucial in their teams’ success this season and that has become even more evident over the past month. Bronco Blair bashed Sydney Roosters out of last week’s preliminary final. Meanwhile Cowboy Scott has bulldozed a path of destruction upfield in recent weeks in comprehensive wins over Cronulla and Melbourne. Blair will be charged with the primary responsibility of stopping Scott in the middle. Whoever wins that contest, it will have a flow on effect across the park. Scott averages 13 hitups, 125m and 24 tackles this season and is an underestimated offloader of the Steeden to boot. Blair averages 81m from 10 runs and 24 tackles.
JOHNATHAN THURSTON v BEN HUNT
One of the most entertaining deciders in years is expected and if it does eventuate these two will have plenty to do with that despite their differing styles of play. Thurston, who boasts 37 try assists and 36 line break assists this season is brilliant at setting up his outside supports. Hunt, meanwhile loves to take on the line and boasts 46 tackle breaks and 12 tries this season, in addition to 27 try assists and 30 line break assists. Thurston is battling a groin injury. But if he is the best player on the park on Sunday, the Cowboys will win. But the same can be said of Hunt.
COREY PARKER v JASON TAUMALOLO
The offence of both sides depends so much upon the unpredictability that each of these locks bring. Parker is undoubtedly the best offloader in traffic in the game and has dished off the Steeden 43 times this year. Those offloads and the second phase play they produce are critical in Brisbane’s efforts to break apart the opposition defence. In addition Parker averages 129m and 30 tackles a game. Taumalolo’s surges around the ruck and his quick play-the-balls create the space Thurston and his Cowboys halves partner Michael Morgan need to weave their magic out wide. Taumalolo has averaged 14 hitups and 143m this season and busted 70 tackles.
* Stats courtesy Fox Sports Stats