Brisbane Broncos beat North Queensland Cowboys 18 -16

Brisbane centre Justin Hodges orchestrated a crucial 18-16 win over North Queensland on Friday night to keep the Broncos' slim NRL finals hopes alive.

Hodges put on the winning try with just under seven minutes to go and veteran five-eighth Scott Prince cooly slotted the conversion to seal a dramatic comeback victory in Townsville.

The Queensland and Test centre's influence in the lead-up to the four-pointer was also pivotal.

His cut-out pass down the left edge to Corey Oates - a combination which led to the 18-year-old winger scoring a 14th-minute try - released the pressure on Brisbane after a half of sustained pressure by the Cowboys.
Brisbane beat Cowboys. Getty Images

In a game crucial to both teams' seasons, the Broncos went up 12-0 in the first 15 minutes thanks to tries from Ben Hunt and Oates.

North Queensland winger Kalifa Faifai Loa put his team back in the contest four minutes before the half-time break with a crucial try and the Cowboys dominated after the break.

It was a cliched game of two halves and after being under the pump for most of the opening half, a 52nd-minute try to Gavin Cooper and some vintage Matt Bowen magic six minutes later gave the Townsville team the lead for the first time.

But just when the Cowboys looked set for a victory which would have kept their season alive, Hodges stepped up and delivered his team the win.

It wasn't all positive for the Broncos - Oates was perhaps unlucky to be put on report for a high tackle on Cowboys halfback Michael Morgan, who appeared to fall into the contact.

North Queensland lock Dallas Johnson, who this week announced his retirement from the game at the end of the season, went off with an injured knee after falling awkwardly in a second-half collision.

AAP
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