All-Queensland final as Cowboys storm competition
NORTH Queenslanders take on cyclones in their sleep, so it came as no surprise a little Storm wouldn't faze the Cowboys NRL side.
North Queensland will go into next Sunday's all-Queensland grand final against Wayne Bennett's Broncos as sentimental favourites after champion halfback Johnathan Thurston inspired them to a 32-12 victory over Melbourne at AAMI Park.
A decade after their only grand final appearance when they lost to the Wests Tigers when Thurston was just 22, the Cowboys have a shot at the title, only this time with Thurston the game's number one player.
Who will win next week's grand final?
This poll ended on 27 September 2015.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Brisbane qualified for their seventh grand final - they have won all previous six with Bennett as coach - with a commanding win over minor premiers the Roosters in front of a record crowd at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Within minutes of the victory, bookmakers Sportsbet had Thurston, strongly tipped to pick up a record fourth Dally M Player of the Year award on Monday night, a hot $3.25 favourite to win the Clive Churchill medal as the best player on the field in Sunday's showdown with the Broncos.
Thurston was magnificent again in the 20-point win, finishing with three try assists while prop Matt Scott followed up his best game of the season last weekend against Cronulla with 205 tough metres in another commanding performance in the middle.
Thurston was dirty with himself for badly missing his first kick at goal to convert centre Justin O'Neill's opening try and it seemed to fire him up.
Melbourne were still in the game trailing 16-12 at half time but Thurston put on a second half clinic to ensure the Cowboys have a shot at the title in Sydney on Sunday.
It will be Thurston's second grand final after coming off the bench for the Bulldogs as a teenager in in 2004.
"I've had too many knocks in the head to remember it," he laughed when asked about the week ahead and keeping his player's from soaking up the atmosphere too early before playing the game.
"It's all about enjoying the week while making sure it doesn't become a distraction with your preparation because we know we're coming up against a very good Broncos outfit and we will need to be better again next week."
Cowboys coach Paul Green, who on Bennett's coaching staff several years ago, said the club would enjoy the week without losing focus on the job which was not yet finished.
"You have to manage the week properly but it's important you enjoy it as well," said Green who has won Queensland Cup grand finals with Wynnum Manly.
Brisbane biggest concern is a judiciary cloud over their captain and veteran centre Justin Hodges who is in danger of miss the grand final after being reported for a dangerous tackle on his Queensland Origin team-mate and Rooster's forward Aidan Guerra.
The Cowboys take on the Broncos at ANZ Stadium next Sunday, October 4, at 7.15pm at ANZ Stadium.