NYC preview: Cowboys v Warriors
NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v NZ WARRIORS NYC
Date: 5.45pm, Saturday 22 March
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium
Live updates: twitter.com/nthqldcowboys
Referee: Michael Gordon
Touch judges: Chris Nitsopolous, Marcus Schooth
Main game: 8pm
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, 18 Jack Brock.
WARRIORS: 1. Brad Abbey 2. Metia Lisati 3. Lafu Feagaiga 4. David Fusitua 5. Braxton Stanley 6. Tuimoala Lolohea 7. Mason Lino 8. Sam Lisone 9. Kurt Robinson 10. James Taylor 11. Michael Ki 12. Ken Maumalo 13. Kouma Samson. Interchange: 14. Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard 15. Jordan Baldwinson 16. Jazz Tevaga 17. Bunty Afoa 18. Matiu Love-Henry.
RECENT HEAD-TO-HEAD: There’s been a good rivalry between these two clubs since the under-20s competition started, reaching its peak in the 2011 grand final that the Warriors won in golden point extra-time. Their last meeting was almost 12 months ago – round four last season – when the Warriors defeated a gutsy Cowboys lineup 25-6. The Auckland team lead the overall head-to-head 6-3 with one draw, but lost their last match against NQ in Townsville at the end of 2012.
FORM GUIDE: After starting the season with a pleasing 42-26 win against last year’s minor premiers Canberra in round one, the Cowboys were beaten 38-22 by Brisbane last Friday night after being level at 10-all just before half time. Surprisingly the Stacey Jones-coached Warriors are none from two so far and have conceded a massive 90 points in back-to-back losses to Parramatta and St George.
KEY STAT: The Cowboys only had 38% possession in the second half against Brisbane thanks to a multitude of handling mistakes. It’s just about impossible to win games of footy when your opponents have so much ball, especially at under-20s level where defences aren’t as strong as the NRL.
WHO’S NEW FOR NQ: Jack Brock is a chance to win his way on to the bench for the first time this year after being named in the squad of 18. A Burdekin Roosters junior, Brock played A-grade for his old club in the Townsville competition at the weekend.
WHO’S NEW FOR THE WARRIORS: It looks like a much stronger Warriors lineup with both David Fusitua and Tuimoala Lolohea to play under-20s for the first time in 2014. Lolohea has played both NSW Cup games for the Warriors so far this season while Fusitua appeared in the first match before making his NRL debut against St George Illawarra last Saturday. They’ve both become available for NYC football with the NSW Cup side having a bye this weekend. They join prop Sam Lisone who also had exposure in the NSW Cup in round one, played for the Junior Warriors last Saturday and was also 18th man for the NRL side.
SUPER SUB: Fijian Viliame Kikau provided some very handy impact off the bench against the Broncos, including scoring a blockbusting try where he carried a couple of defenders across the line. He also has a dangerous offload that can unlock the opposition defence.
COWBOY TO WATCH: Andrew Niemoeller appears to be thriving as one of the senior members of the Cowboys squad, winning the Cowboys man-of-the-match honours against Brisbane. He was one of several under-20s who stepped up to train with the NRL squad prior to Christmas.
THE WARRIORS’ DANGER: A Junior Kiwis rep last year, Lolohea will play at five-eighth and needs to be watched carefully. He played all 28 NYC matches last year, scoring 134 points including 22 tries.
THE COWBOYS’ FINAL SAY – COACH TODD WILSON: A disappointing second half performance by our boys last week handed the Broncos their second win of the season. After a promising start in round 1 it is important that we find consistency in our performances.
With defence being a major focus this week at training, the first thing we must do is stop the go forward of the Warriors big pack. Players with the class of Lolohea and Fusitua will take some stopping on the fringes if we can’t do that.
Possession will also be a key for us. If we can maintain our share of the ball and turn their big men around with an effective kicking game it will allow us to build some pressure and create scoring opportunities.