Cowboys' grand final comes early - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cowboys' grand final comes early

By Wayne Heming 14/07/2008 08:08:48 PM Comments (0)

Last-placed North Queensland will promote Friday night's NRL derby with Brisbane as the home final they won't have.

The Cowboys started 2008 with high hopes of repeating their 2005 effort of reaching the NRL grand final.

But their season has turned horribly pear-shaped since head coach Graham Murray walked and injuries struck down big guns Luke O'Donnell, Matt Bowen and Jacob Lillyman.

Bowen is scheduled to undergo knee surgery this week.

Cartilage harvested from his knee has been cultivated on an artificial matrix and will be used to repair the damage.

Justin Smith is booked for shoulder reconstruction this week, the same operation Origin forward Lillyman underwent recently.

The club's rotten luck continued at the weekend when prop Matt Scott's comeback from a broken ankle suffered a setback while playing for Mackay.

The only good news is the availability of rugged five-eighth Travis Burns who has completed his suspension.

Despite all this, the Cowboys are hoping fans roll up in big numbers to support them against Brisbane who'll head north with a near full strength squad chasing two premiership points to keep them in the hunt for a top four finish.

Cashed up bookmakers are unlikely to show punters any sympathy by gambling against Brisbane to continue the Cowboys' NRL misery.

They equalled their worst losing streak with loss number 10 to the Warriors at the weekend.

Reeling from the worst weekend of results in years with five short-priced favourites crashing, punters are tipped to bet up big on the Broncos.

"Bookmakers couldn't have lost if they tried," said Lasseter's Gerrard Daffy after weekend upsets by the Titans, Knights, Raiders, Rabbits and Bulldogs left big and small punters shattered.

The biggest bet of the weekend - a $190,000 all up on the Roosters, Manly and Melbourne - went down on Friday night when the Titans started a crazy weekend of results.

Daffy said Brisbane would be at skinny odds for their annual clash given the Cowboys' horrendous season and punters could unload on them.

"The Cowboys would have been expecting to have a home final at the start of the season and now this game may be it for their fans," said Daffy.

Form often goes out the window in derby battles when emotion and pride can take control.

The Cowboys smashed Brisbane 36-4 and 26-10 in their two clashes in 2006 but the Broncos won the premiership.

They went on with the job winning the first clash of 2007 23-16 but Brisbane have come out on top in their last two encounters 24-16 and 36-2.

Overall the head-to-head is 18-4 and two draws in Brisbane's favour.

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