The Cowboys calibrated their arrangements for the opening round of the Telstra Premiership with a 26-6 loss of the Broncos in Mackay on Saturday night.
North Queensland mentor Todd Payten would have been satisfied by what he saw as Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow featured at fullback, Valentine Holmes won his one-on-one focus double with Kotoni Staggs and star enroll Chad Townsend controlled play at halfback.
Tom Dearden and Scott Drinkwater played half a game each at five-eighth and both were impressive, leaving Payten with a tough choice to determine who will partner Townsend against the Bulldogs in round one.
Not a bad way to end the pre-season 😊 pic.twitter.com/SDe0mmWXLs
— NQ Cowboys (@nthqldcowboys) February 26, 2022
The Broncos started well but lost their way midway through the first half and never got back into the game, with coach Kevin Walters needing to decide between Cory Paix and Jake Turpin at hooker and a halves partner for Adam Reynolds.
Albert Kelly was a late withdrawal from the trial after contracting COVID-19, giving Tyson Gamble and Billy Walters an opportunity to show their wares.
Prop Payne Haas carried the ball for 120 metres from 11 runs before being sin-binned just before halftime and he never returned as Walters wanted to keep him for the opening round clash with South Sydney at Suncorp Stadium.
A piece of individual brilliance by Queensland Origin star Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow turned the game in favour of the Cowboys midway through the first half and the Broncos never recovered.
With a number of loose passes forcing the Cowboys to backpedal from the Broncos line, Tabuai-Fidow took advantage of a broken defensive line by kicking for himself and racing through to score the first of North Queensland’s four tries.
The Cowboys host the new look Bulldogs on Sunday, March 13, while the Broncos welcome the Rabbitohs to Suncorp Stadium on Friday, March 11, with much anticipation about the debut of star recruit Adam Reynolds against his former club.
Brisbane coach Kevin Walters is expected to decide this week whether Billy Walters, Tyson Gamble or Albert Kelly will partner Reynolds in the halves for the opening round clash.