Thurston's boot the difference again in NRL state rivalry

SYDNEY (AP) Not for the first time a North Queensland-Brisbane derby match in the National Rugby League was decided by a Johnathan Thurston field goal.

Thurston booted a 75th-minute field goal to seal defending champion North Queensland's 19-18 win over Brisbane in Townsville, marking the third consecutive match between the state rivals that ended in a one-point margin of victory.

That includes the Cowboys' 2015 grand final result, which was also decided by Thurston's field goal in extra time, a 17-16 win.

The match Friday was Cowboys' co-captain Thurston's 250th game for North Queensland.

''I remember my first game for the Cowboys back in 2005 against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium when they bashed us up,'' he said. ''There have been some tough times and good times between those games.''

The result further tightened the standings at the top of the NRL. First-place Brisbane leads second-place North Queensland on goal difference, with the Broncos, Cowboys, third-place Cronulla and fourth-place Melbourne all with 16 competition points.

Cronulla could move into first place with a win later Saturday over the Manly Sea Eagles, while the Melbourne Storm could do the same when they play Parramatta on Monday to conclude the 11th round.

In another match, South Sydney moved into the top eight with a 34-24 win over St. George Illawarra.

On Sunday, Penrith plays the Gold Coast Titans and the Canterbury Bulldogs meet the Sydney Roosters in Sydney.