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The Cowboys have maintained bragging rights over 'big brother' Brisbane with a courageous 19-18 win in Townsville off the back of a Valentine Holmes field goal.

It was the fourth time since 2015 that these two sides have been separated by only one point. With the Cowboys now winning three of the last six meetings, it proves this local derby is continuing its healthy rivalry.

That's now four wins from the past five game for the Cowboys but coach Todd Payten is not getting carried away, or making any bold predictions around September.

"Our best footy is well ahead of us," Payten said

"I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We're playing the Roosters this week and to be fair - outside of Penrith - I don't know if we've played anyone who is in that upper bracket as finals contenders.

"So let's just hold our biscuits there... they're working hard and finding a way so that's what rugby league is all about."

The Cowboys win was led by a reinvigorated Jason Taumalolo, who powered his way to 236 metres from 20 hit-ups in just his third game for 2021 after two separate hand fractures.

Given he played 72 minutes in a high intensity clash it was a tribute to Taumalolo's desire that he was able to carry three defenders over the line with six minutes left on the clock to tie the game up.

Feldt with a try you have to see to believe

"I thought all our leaders were really good - Jase being one of those. I thought Jordan McLean ran the ball really hard, especially in his second stint where he was a real presence in the middle, and (Kyle) Feldt. He was solid all game just running the ball hard," Payten said.

Scores were locked up three times during the 80 minutes as the two sides turned back the clock to some of their epic clashes in 2015 and '16.

Despite the euphoria when the full-time hooter sounded, the Broncos performance – particularly that by halves Tyson Gamble and Anthony Milford – would have brought a smile to coach Kevin Walters’ face.

The Broncos forward pack led by Payne Haas, Tevita Pangai Junior, Tom Fleger and Rhys Kennedy maintained control for large parts of the game, even after losing skipper and lock Patrick Carrigan (knee) in the 53rd minute.

For the Cowboys, Feldt’s third try of the season – the 95th of his career – will be long-remembered.

With three Broncos defenders trying to push him into touch, unsighted of the line he raised the ball through the bodies and placed it on the chalk. Holmes iced the conversion from the sideline to send the capacity crowd into raptures and the game was only five minutes old.

'Hold your biscuits': Payten plays down Cowboys form

The Broncos didn’t go into their shell with Xavier Coates crossing in the seventh minute to lock things up at 6-6 and give him his eighth try in nine games.

The arm wrestle then started as both teams showed some shafts of brilliance in attack and defence.

"We came up against a team who have so much athleticism that they're going to break tackles," Payten said. "But the way we covered and scrambled kept us in the game - so it's another step forward."

Broncos interchange forward Rhys Kennedy crashing over after sustained pressure on the Cowboys line gave the visitors the half-time lead 12-8.

In the second half, Cowboys centre Connelly Lemuelu smothered a Scott Drinkwater grubber over the line to level scores once more (12-12).

Broncos strike from their own half through Arthars

The Broncos finished off a 55-metre move through Jesse Arthars  but then Taumalolo scored to level the scores again 18-18.

Up stepped Holmes to pot the one-pointer from 25 metres out almost directly in front.

The Cowboys do have a couple of worries on the judiciary front. Three players - winger Murray Taulagi, forwards Coen Hess and Lachlan Burr – were placed on report for high tackles.

Broncos prop Kennedy was also placed on report for a crusher tackle on Shane Wright.