Broncos pip Cowboys in dramatic Queensland derby

A last-minute try to Brisbane Broncos halfback Jake Turpin has snatched an 18-14 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville to keep their NRL finals hopes alive.

Brisbane were down by two points heading into the final minute of Thursday's dour encounter at 1300SMILES Stadium before Turpin defied multiple Cowboys defenders close to the line to seal an unlikely result.

The contest began in style when Brisbane fullback Anthony Milford scored after winger Jamayne Isaako beat opposite Gideon Gela-Mosby down the touch line and passed back inside in the sixth minute.

But the flashy start was not an indicator for the error-laden spectacle which followed.

At times both sides wouldn't have been able to complete a set of Lego with competition rates of under 75 per cent and 27 errors between them.

The Cowboys first try was indicative of the messy nature of the opening match of round 21 when Shane Wright benefited from a loose carry by Gehamat Shibasaki eight minutes before halftime.

The stale first half only became interesting when Tevita Pangai Jnr and former teammate Josh McGuire tussled shortly before the break.

Cowboys enforcer McGuire could face more scrutiny from the judiciary after television replays appeared to show him brushing the face of David Fifita earlier in the half - he has already been fined for facial-related indiscretions twice this season.

The second term was also a turgid affair highlighted by Jake Clifford forcing his own grubber to put the Cowboys back into the lead

Fifita powered over for the visitors and then Clifford's 71st penalty looked to secure the points before Turpin's late heroics.

The Cowboys are in Newcastle next Saturday to play the Knights while the Broncos host the Panthers on Friday.