NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v PARRAMATTA EELS NYC
Date: 3.15pm, Saturday 26 April
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium
Live updates: twitter.com/nthqldcowboys
Referee: Liam Kennedy
Touch judges: Tim Rutherford, Chris Nitsopoulos
Main game: 5.30pm
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys: 1. Alex Grant 2. Hayden Crowley 3. Lenny Magey 4. Samsen O'Neill 5. Scott Schulte 6. Aaron Solari 7. Delayne Ashby 8. Jack Brock 9. Josh Chudleigh 10. David Munro 11. Jack Kelleher 12. Corey Jensen 13. Andrew Niemoeller. Interchange: 14. Dan Clarke 15. Bill Cullen 16. Viliame Kikau 17. Michael Barclay.
Parramatta Eels: 1. Corey Makelim 2. Fabian Goodall 3. John Folau 4. Nathan Davis 5. Halauafu Lavaka 6. Ryan Matterson 7. Zach Dockar-Clay 8. Tepai Tepu-Smith 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Kelepi Tanginoa 11. Tepai Moeroa 12. Eric Newbigging 13. Josh Aloiai. Interchange: 14. Joey Lussick 15. Fred Junior Mauala 16. Jordan Muna 17. Jeff Markus.
RECENT HEAD-TO-HEAD: This is the first Cowboys v Eels tussle since round eight last season when Parramatta turned a 10-0 half-time lead into a 16-10 victory at Pirtek Stadium. It gave the Eels a 4-3 lead (with two draws) in the overall head-to-head record. Interestingly, there are only seven Cowboys from that match 12 months ago who will line up on Saturday afternoon.
FORM GUIDE: The Cowboys ended a two-game losing run by beating Manly 30-16 at Gosford on Friday night. It’s a short turnaround for the Eels, who played on Monday afternoon but will be on a high after demolishing Wests Tigers 58-20. Parra have only lost one of their last five to climb to second place on the table.
HOME AND AWAY: The Cowboys have been victorious in just one of three matches at 1300SMILES Stadium in 2014 – and have lost their last two – while the Eels are 2-1 in their travels this season.
AFTERNOON DELIGHT: It’s rare for our under-20s to play a full match at home in sunlight but that’s what will happen Saturday thanks to the 3.15pm kick off. It’s their first day game at the stadium since round seven against Canberra last year.
KEY STAT: The Eels only completed a lowly 62% of their sets against Wests Tigers last week (20 from 32), but still managed to rack up 58 points thanks to 10 tries. It’s a sign of how powerful their attack can be.
WHO’S NEW FOR NQ: Front-rower Michael Barclay returns to the Cowboys interchange bench to replace 17-year-old Coen Hess, who will play in the Mal Meninga Cup semi-final for the Townsville Stingers against Wynnum-Manly on Sunday.
WHO’S NEW FOR THE EELS: Coach Justin Holbrook has named an unchanged squad of 17.
COWBOY TO WATCH: The return of big Fijian Viliame Kikau added plenty of punch to the Cowboys’ running game in the win against Manly. In just 36 minutes of playing time, he gathered 129 metres in 12 hit-ups, six tackle busts, three offloads and a second-half try.
THE EELS’ DANGER: Five-eighth Ryan Matterson, the nephew of Cowboys NRL assistant coach Terry Matterson, is coming off a huge afternoon against the Tigers that included 13 runs for 126 metres, three linebreaks, eight tackle busts and a try assist.
THE COWBOYS’ FINAL SAY – COACH TODD WILSON:
First and foremost this week our focus will be around defence.
The Eels are strong and powerful right across the park and capable of scoring from anywhere.
Their big pack will look to roll down the field before playing to their edges where their left side have been dominant recently.
Our middle men have been great the last two weeks and will be looking forward to this week’s challenge of controlling their go-forward and limiting their attacking shift opportunities.
We'll aim to play with a high level of energy to make sure we're in the hunt at the back end of each half where the daylight conditions in North Queensland will be in our favour.
With the ball in our hand it is vital against the bigger sides that we control possession, build pressure through an effective kicking game and make the most of our good ball opportunities.
Limiting errors, high completions and winning the field position battle will assist us in doing this.
The boys love playing at home and after a few days rest over Easter are looking forward to tackling one of the early front-runners of the competition this Saturday.