The Broncos remain unbeaten in 2014 after grinding out a 16-12 win over Queensland rivals the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium.

It was ugly to the end but Brisbane ground out a 16-12 NRL win over Queensland rivals North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

It was far from champagne rugby league, with the combined error count soaring to 24 that did little to dull the spirits of the 42,303-strong crowd.

Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough sealed the result six minutes from fulltime when Dale Copley put him through a gap to score under the posts.

The Cowboys pressed the line with just seconds left on the clock before Johnathan Thurston knocked the ball on centimetres from the tryline.

Broncos prop Josh McGuire was placed on report twice for two separate incidents – the first for a swinging arm on Gavin Cooper and then for a late shot on the legs of halfback Robert Lui.

The front-rower was then ruled to have obstructed play in the 60th minute when Ben Hunt crossed the line, denying a try that would have put the Broncos in front instead of trailing 12-10.

It took just seven minutes for star recruit Ben Barba to show his magic, popping an inside ball to Matt Gillett who busted straight through the attempted tackles of Jason Taumalolo and Glenn Hall to score under the posts.

The Cowboys came close to hitting straight back when Thurston used the new tap-and-go rule on penalties to bamboozle the Broncos, only for fullback Michael Morgan to be held up over the line.

But Thurston got his try next tackle, with prop James Tamou busting through the line and popping up a pass for his Australian teammate to score.

Makeshift five-eighth Josh Hoffman, playing just his second NRL match in the position, put in a peach of a cross-field grubber for Daniel Vidot to latch on to and give the Broncos a 10-6 halftime lead.

But the Cowboys levelled the scores again in the 48th minute when winger Kyle Feldt batted back a Lui cross-field kick for Cooper to pounce on and score.

McGuire’s shot on Lui and the ensuing penalty allowed Thurston to put his side in front 12-10, kicking a goal from just to the left of the uprights.

Linnett was denied a try in the 67th minute when he knocked the ball on trying to ground it in the left corner.

The narrow margin continued the intense rivalry that has included four of the last seven games between the two teams being won by just two points.

Broncos coach Anthony Griffin was not getting carried away with the win, with attack still a concern for his side.

“The result was good, it was a long night, though,” he said.

“We’re hanging in there, only letting in 12 every week and that’s what’s getting us home at the moment.

“To beat the Cowboys you’ve got to defend well on Thurston and I thought we did that pretty well.”

Likewise Cowboys coach Paul Green was not reaching for the panic button, with the first time NRL mentor confident results will swing back in their favour once the error count is tightened up.

“It was a great contest, (but) I don’t think it was a particularly great game,” he said.

“Certainly from our point of view we would like to control the ball a bit better.

“We’re not there as a team yet, but we’ll get there.”