NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v MELBOURNE STORM NYC
Date: 5.15pm, Saturday 31 May
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium
Live updates: twitter.com/nthqldcowboys
Referee: Michael Gordon
Touch judges: Tim Rutherford, Josh Kersevani
Main game: 7.30pm
COWBOYS: 1 Yamba Bowie, 2 Rainer Power, 3 Lenny Magey, 4 Conor Carey, 5 Scott Schulte, 6 Alex Grant, 7 Cooper Bambling, 8 Viliame Kikau, 9 Dan Clarke, 10 Jack Kelleher (c), 11 Coen Hess, 12 Corey Jensen, 13 David Munro. Interchange: 14 Delayne Ashby, 15 Andrew Niemoeller, 16 Regan Greive, 17 Michael Barclay, 18 Kieran Quabba, 20 Jack Brock.
STORM: 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2 Maxwell Fesolai, 3 Niua Finau-Puaka, 4 Reubenn Rennie, 5 Suliasi Vunivalu, 6 Brayden Torpy, 7 Jake Turpin, 8 Francis Tualau, 9 Billy Brittain (c), 10 Joe Stimson, 11 Charlie Galo, 12 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 13. Ben Halfpenny. Interchange: 14 Billy Kitt, 15 Una Mohi, 16 John Filipo, 17 Kurt Bernard.
RECENT HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Cowboys defeated Melbourne 26-16 in their last meeting, 14 months ago. Overall, NQ lead the head-to-head 5-4 with one draw. In matches in Townsville, the Cowboys lead 4-2.
FORM GUIDE: The Cowboys, now 13th on the ladder, beat Canberra 44-30 away from home last weekend to end a three-game losing streak. Melbourne should be well-rested after having a bye in round 11. The Storm had won two in a row before losing 34-8 against South Sydney in round 10 and start round 12 in ninth place.
HOME AND AWAY: There’s been no homeground advantage in the Cowboys' results so far this year. They’ve only won one of six at 1300SMILES Stadium and conceded some big scores along the way, including 64 points against Parramatta and 55 against the Roosters. The Storm have had their troubles winning away, picking up just one victory in four attempts.
KEY STAT: The Raiders were woeful with the ball last Sunday, completing just 17 of 35 sets (48.6%). The Cowboys took advantage and clinched a much-needed win, but they can’t hope for favours like that from their opposition each week.
WHO’S NEW FOR NQ: Selected in the Queensland open schoolboys squad last weekend, Regan Grieve is in line to make his NYC debut off the bench for the Cowboys this weekend. At home in the back-row or at centre, he’ll be the third member of the Townsville Stingers under-18 squad to debut for NQ in the under-20s this season. In other team news, captain Jack Kelleher is back from a two-game suspension, while hooker Josh Chudleigh will start a two-game ban.
COWBOY TO WATCH: Rookie back-rower Coen Hess was again outstanding for the Cowboys in Canberra. He played the full 80 minutes with his 15 hit-ups yielding 187 metres, eight tackle busts, two linebreaks and a well-deserved try. He was also NQ’s top tackler with 26.
THE STORM’S DANGER: Back-rower Nelson Asofa-Solomona is top five in the NYC in offloads and tackle busts. Two weeks ago against Manly, he ran for 199m and burst through nine tackles.
THE COWBOYS’ FINAL SAY – COACH TODD WILSON:
Off the back of a good win away last week the boys have recovered and trained well leading into their challenge against the young Storm team.
As previously mentioned, the Raiders competed below their regular standards and gifted us some opportunities that we don’t expect will come easy this week.
We must be better defensively and be willing to put our bodies in front of the hard running Storm pack to control their go forward.
Some changes again this week due to suspension and injury will see the return of Jack Kelleher who I expect will strengthen our resolve through his leadership.
We welcome Regan Grieve to the team who will make his debut from the bench and will play in the back-row when he gets his opportunity.
Our last performance at home was not up to standard and this week’s game is an opportunity to make amends for this.
It is our chance to go back-to-back with wins for the first time this season and nothing short of a strong performance will be acceptable.