NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v BRISBANE BRONCOS NYC
Date: 5.20pm, Friday 9 May
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium
Live updates: twitter.com/nthqldcowboys
Referee: Nick Morel
Touch judges: Tyson Brough, Chris Nitsopoulos
Main game: 7.40pm
COWBOYS: 1 Alex Grant, 2 Rainer Power, 3 Lenny Magey, 4 Samsen O’Neill, 5 Scott Schulte, 6 Delayne Ashby, 7 Cooper Bambling 8 Jack Brock, 9 Josh Chudleigh, 10 David Munro, 11 Jack Kelleher (c), 12 Corey Jensen, 13 Andrew Niemoeller. Interchange: 14 Dan Clarke, 15 Bill Cullen, 16 Viliame Kikau, 17 Coen Hess, 18 Michael Barclay, 20 Hayden Crowley. Coach: Todd Wilson.
BRONCOS: 1 Elijah Alick, 2 Paul Byrnes, 3 Junior Taefu, 4 Jack Tuttle, 5 Tom Opacic, 6 Jayden Nikorima, 7 Duncan Paia’aua, 8 Francis Molo, 9 Jayden Berrell, 10 Aaron Rockley, 11 Ajuma Adams, 12 Brett Greinke, 13 Joe Ofahengaue. Interchange: 14 Jai Arrow, 15 Alex Barr, 16 Sam Gee, 17 Lindsay Collins. Coach: Craig Hodges.
RECENT HEAD-TO-HEAD: There’s not much between these two clubs in NYC fixtures with the Broncos winning seven 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. In round two this year, a strong second half propelled the Broncos to a 38-22 win at Suncorp Stadium.
FORM GUIDE: The Cowboys ended a two-game losing run by beating Manly 30-16 at Gosford in round seven but then suffered a record-breaking 64-4 loss to Parramatta at home in their last start a fortnight ago. Brisbane have climbed to fourth on the ladder with two wins and a draw (against competition leaders Newcastle) in their last three matches.
HOME AND AWAY: The Cowboys have been victorious in just one of four matches at 1300SMILES Stadium in 2014 – and have lost their last three – while the Broncos are 2-1 in their travels this season.
KEY STAT: Unfortunately for North Queensland, they now have the worst defensive record in the competition, conceding an average of 37.25 points per game. Needless to say, that figure needs to drop significantly if they are to work their way up from 12th on the ladder.
WHO’S NEW FOR NQ: There are a couple of NYC debutants for the Cowboys – halfback Cooper Bambling who was part of the Townsville Stingers’ victorious Mal Meninga Cup squad, and winger Rainer Power, who has been with the club for two seasons but had his 2013 ruined by a finger tendon injury. Bambling is a former junior from the Yeppoon Seagulls, while Power came to the Cowboys from the Bowen Seagulls and Burdekin Roosters.
WHO’S NEW FOR THE BRONCOS: The young Broncos regain Francis Molo (Norths), who played for the Maroons under 20s last weekend, Paul Byrnes (Redcliffe) and Duncan Paia’aua (Central Capras) from stints in the Intrust Super Cup. Jordan Drew is out for up to a month with a leg injury, while Kodi Nikorima has been sent for further development in the Intrust Super Cup with Norths.
COWBOY TO WATCH: Hooker Josh Chudleigh has been a stand-out for the Cowboys with both his clever work out of dummy-half and his defensive work rate in the first third of the season. He did all he could against Parramatta to stem the tide with a team-high 42 tackles in the middle, earning player of the match honours. He's one to watch closely near the try line.
THE BRONCOS’ DANGER: Five-eighth Jayden Nikorima was a handful for the Cowboys in round two. His statistics line featured 119 running metres, 12 tackle busts, three linebreaks and two tries.
THE COWBOYS’ FINAL SAY – COACH TODD WILSON:
Our last start performance against the Eels was unacceptable and nothing short of a complete turnaround in attitude and commitment against the Broncos will be tolerated.
Defence is the cornerstone of any game and has to be our major focus this week.
Our pack has worked tirelessly to get control of recent opposition forwards, only to be let down by some poor defensive reads and efforts.
Consistency is vital and everyone from 1-17 must play their part if we are to build pressure on the Broncos.
Rainer Power and Cooper Bambling will make their NYC debuts this week.
Both players bring exciting individual qualities which will add to the make-up of the team and we look forward to their continued development throughout the season.