Thurston inspires Cowboys over Broncos 26-20 in NRL playoffs

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Johnathan Thurston

Johnathan Thurston (Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz)

TOWNSVILLE, Australia (AP) — The North Queensland Cowboys beat state rivals Brisbane 26-20 in extra time on Friday to stay on track for a repeat of National Rugby League titles.

Brisbane led 20-18 before Johnathan Thurston kicked a 78th-minute penalty to send the match to extra time.

Then co-captain Thurston set up Michael Morgan's 85th-minute try to give the Cowboys the win and book a preliminary final next weekend against Cronulla, with the winner of that match advancing to the grand final on Oct. 2.

It was North Queensland's seventh home playoff victory in a row.

On Saturday, Canberra plays Penrith in another second-round match. The winner faces Melbourne in a preliminary final on Sept. 24, with the winner of that match also advancing to the grand final at Sydney's Olympic stadium.

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