Cowboys, Broncos still leading the NRL pack

WITH so many tipsters already predicting a repeat of last year's dramatic grand final between North Queensland and Brisbane, it's worth looking back through the record books to see how many times the same two teams have played back-to-back grand finals.

Since Eastern Suburbs beat Glebe in successive season deciders in 1911-12, it has only been achieved five more times in more than 100 years.

Those teams were Balmain, (against South Sydney in 1916 and 1917), South Sydney (against Newtown in 1954 and 1955), St George (against Western Suburbs in 1961, 1962 and 1963), Parramatta (against Manly in 1982 and 1983), and most recently Brisbane which denied St George in 1992 and 1993.

Leading bookmaker Sportsbet has already framed a Cowboys- Broncos grand final market to cater for the early interest in a rematch, with North Queensland at $1.80 and Brisbane at $2.

Perhaps it took a line through the history books and saw that in each of those past five times it has happened, the premier backed up with a second victory.

"The Cowboys-Broncos option is the only combination punters are interested in at the moment," Sportsbest spokesman Christian Jantzen said.

While four teams sit on top of the NRL ladder on 14 points after nine rounds, there is no doubt the Cowboys and Broncos look a class above the pack.

The two clubs could supply as many as 12 of the 34 players involved in this year's State of Origin series, with game one scheduled for Sydney on June 1.

Brisbane's Darius Boyd, Josh McGuire, Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett, and Corey Parker look certain to play for the Maroons, while Cowboys stars Michael Morgan, Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and James Tamou (NSW) will also be in game one barring injury. Cowboys players Lachlan Coote (NSW), and Kyle Feldt and Justin O'Neill (Queensland), are also chances.

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