Cowboys v Storm preview!
Thursday 12 July 2012 9:30 AM
The Sheriff's match preview: North Queensland Toyota Cowboys v Melbourne Storm
Round 19, 2012 NRL Telstra Premiership
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys: 1 Matthew Bowen, 2 Ashley Graham, 3 Brent Tate 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Johnathan Thurston (c), 7 Ray Thompson, 8 Matthew Scott (c), 9 Aaron Payne, 10 James Tamou, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Glenn Hall, 13 Dallas Johnson. Interchange: 14 Anthony Mitchell, 15 Ricky Thorby, 16 Ashton Sims, 17 Jason Taumalolo, 18 Michael Morgan, 19 Scott Bolton (two to be omitted). Coach: Neil Henry.
Melbourne Storm: 1 Gareth Widdop, 2 Matt Duffie, 3 Dane Nielsen, 4 Justin O'Neill, 5 Anthony Quinn, 6 Maurice Blair, 7 Cooper Cronk, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Jason Ryles, 11 Sika Manu, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Todd Lowrie. Interchange: 14 Ryan Hinchliffe, 15 Rory Kostjasyn, 16 Bryan Norrie, 17 Kevin Proctor, 18 Siosaia Vave, 19 Jaiman Lowe, 20 Sisa Waqa (three to be omitted). Coach: Craig Bellamy.
HEAD-TO-HEADSPlayed: 24 – Cowboys 6, Storm 18Head-to-head at AAMI Park: Cowboys 0, Storm 1Last game: Storm 42 d Cowboys 18 at Dairy Farmers Stadium (round 6, 2012)Biggest head-to-head wins: Cowboys 40 d Storm 8 (Dairy Farmers Stadium, round 3 2006); Storm 58 d Cowboys 12 (AAMI Park, round 15 2010)
Date: 5.30pm, Saturday 14 July 2012
Venue: AAMI Park
Broadcast: Fox Sports 2, 4TOFM (live)
Live updates: @nthqldcowboys #ridemcowboys
Referees: Tony Archer, Gavin Morris
Touch judges: Jeff Younis, Gavin West
Video referee: Pat Reynolds
Toyota Cup: 3.15pm - live on Fox Sports 2
HOW THE SHERIFF SEES IT...
With the representative season finally over, the Toyota Cowboys can now focus solely on the last eight rounds of the season and their bid to make the finals for a second straight year.
There’s no doubt that our boys have come through the Origin period pretty well, holding on to their top-eight position thanks to three wins at home - against Penrith, Brisbane and Canberra – while hooker James Segeyaro was the only significant injury casualty.
The club moved quickly to shore up that position by snapping up Anthony Mitchell from the Roosters and he impressed on limited preparation against the Warriors a fortnight ago.
Now we have all our Origin boys back (all four are largely niggle-free), and everyone has had a week off thanks to the club’s decision to take the second bye of 2012 after the third Origin game.
That was a change of strategy that will hopefully show some positive results at this key part of the year.
At a guess, we’ll need to win four of the last eight, as well as keeping our for and against record healthy, to be guaranteed a top-eight spot but we’ll be aiming higher than that.
It’s a top four berth, and a double-chance at the finals, that Neil Henry and his men will want and to do that, they can only afford a couple of slip-ups between now and the end of round 26.
Losing against the Storm on Saturday would make their job very difficult.
It’s hard to say if this is a good time to be striking Melbourne.
Two losses in their last two games suggest the Storm are slightly out of form and they’re likely to again be without inspirational fullback Billy Slater.
However, Melbourne have only lost three in a row once in a decade which illustrates how good they are at stopping the rot if it happens, plus captain Cameron Smith is back after a week off.
NQ halfback Ray Thompson is expected to be fit after recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in the loss to the Warriors, although Michael Morgan has been named on an extended bench as back-up.
It’s a big night for the Storm’s number seven, Cooper Cronk, who becomes just the fourth player to reach 200 games for the Storm.
With so many Origin stars on show, this should be one of the games of the season.
Final score: Cowboys 20, Storm 16.