NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v BRISBANE BRONCOS
NYC ROUND 2
Date: 5.15pm, Friday 14 March
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Live updates: twitter.com/nthqldcowboys
Referee: Peter Gough
Touch judges: Liam Kennedy, Tyson Brough
Main game: 7.40pm
COWBOYS: 1 Alex Grant, 2 Hayden Crowley, 3 Lenny Magey, 4 Samsen O’Neill, 5 Scott Schulte, 6 James Redman, 7 Delayne Ashby, 8 Halvor Harris, 9 Josh Chudleigh, 10 David Munro, 11 Jack Kelleher (c), 12 Corey Jensen, 13 Andrew Niemoeller. Interchange: 14 Dan Clarke, 15 Kieran Quabba, 16 Bill Cullen, 17 Viliame Kikau.
BRONCOS: 1 Jayden Nikorima, 2 Paul Byrnes, 3 Junior Taefu, 4 Jack Tuttle, 5 Elijah Alick. 6 Duncan Paia’aua, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Francis Molo, 9 Jayden Berrell, 10 Joe Ofahengaue, 11 Brendon McBryde, 12 Brett Greinke, 13 Jai Arrow. Interchange: 14 Brandon Lee, 15 Aaron Rockley, 16 Sam Gee, 17 Alex Barr.
RECENT HEAD-TO-HEAD: There’s not much between these two clubs in NYC fixtures with the Broncos winning six of the Queensland derbies to the Cowboys’ five with one draw. Last season, Brisbane won 36-34 at Suncorp Stadium before NQ won the return clash 44-32 after leading 40-18 late in the second half.
FORM GUIDE: After winning two out of three pre-season trials, the Cowboys started their year with a 42-26 victory against last year’s NYC minor premiers Canberra at 1300SMILES Stadium. The Broncos began their 2014 campaign by scoring an away win against Canterbury at ANZ Stadium last Friday night. They outscored the Bulldogs 22-4 in the second half after trailing 20-8 at half time.
KEY STAT: The Cowboys completed their sets at a very high 90% (18 from 20) in the first half against the Raiders before falling away to 68% (13 from 19) in the second 40 minutes. The errors almost allowed Canberra back into the contest.
WHO’S NEW FOR NQ: Prop forward Halvor Harris returns to the starting pack after Patrick Kaufusi was ruled out for up to six months after rupturing a pectoral muscle. It’s the only change to the squad of 17 who downed the Raiders.
WHO’S NEW FOR BRISBANE: The Broncos will be without three players – Tom Opacic, Ajuma Adams and Jordan Drew – who were part of the last-gasp win over the Bulldogs last Friday night. The most serious injury is a shoulder problem for 2013 NRL debutant Drew, who could be missing for a month. Junior Taefu replaces Drew, while Elijah Alick takes over Opacic's post on the wing. Brendon McBryde will start in the second-row, while Alex Barr will debut from the bench.
SUPER SUB: Interchange hooker Dan Clarke provided plenty of positive impact off the bench on Saturday night, scoring two tries to help get his team two points to start the year.
COWBOY TO WATCH: Fullback has been a position of strength in the Cowboys’ NYC team thanks to the spectacular form of the likes of Zac Santo in recent seasons and Alex Grant looks like continuing the tradition. A five-eighth last season, he showed off his dangerous running and passing game by scoring two tries and set up two others in the Canberra win.
THE BRONCOS’ DANGER: The Nikorima brothers, Kodi and Jayden, played their first competition game together for the Broncos against the Bulldogs. Kodi spent the pre-season training with the under 20s and showed his potential with a stirring display at the Auckland Nines. It was a performance that had the halfback considered for a round one start in the NRL for the Broncos. Both brothers scored tries in round one.
THE FINAL SAY – COWBOYS COACH TODD WILSON
Round 1 was a positive start for the team but we need to put that behind us and prepare for a tough battle against our closest rivals.
Finding consistency is the biggest challenge in the under-20s competition and a main focus in the early rounds.
Dominating field position through disciplined ball control and an effective kicking game will form a major part of this week’s preparation.
With only two field sessions this week on the short turnaround there will be a heavy emphasis on our defensive principles and structures.
Quality teams will make you pay for any defensive lapses or shortcomings and last week it nearly cost us.
Losing Patrick Kaufusi to injury means others will have to step up.
The boys are excited to be playing at Suncorp Stadium as both teams look to build on their first-round success.