NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v CRONULLA SHARKS NYC
Date: 5.20pm, Friday 18 July
Venue: Remondis Stadium
Live updates: twitter.com/nthqldcowboys
Referee: Kasey Badger
Touch judges: Ricky MacFarlane, Phil Henderson
Main game: 7.40pm
Cowboys: 1. Yamba Bowie 2. Samsen O'Neill 3. Lenny Magey 4. Akeripa Tia-Kilifi 5. Conor Carey 6. Delayne Ashby 7. Cooper Bambling 8. Viliame Kikau 9. Josh Chudleigh 10. Jack Kelleher 11. Coen Hess 12. Corey Jensen 13. David Munro. Interchange: 14. Dan Clarke 15. Andrew Niemoeller 16. Kieran Quabba 17. Michael Barclay.
Sharks: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Finlay Dibley 3. Paul Simona 4. Jamayne Isaako 5. Joshua Addo-Carr 6. Jaden Clarke 7. Alex Zarounas 8. Alec Susino 9. Bradley Deitz 10. Jake Goodwin 11. Anthony Moraitis 12. Patrice Siolo 13. Benjamin Chahoud. Interchange: 14. Jake Lawrence 15. Sage Wilder 16. Harrison Muller 17. Kalausa Leha.
RECENT HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Cowboys were in finals contention last year until they lost 36-20 to Cronulla at Remondis Stadium in round 25. The Sharks have a 3-2 edge in games against NQ at Cronulla but the Cowboys lead the overall head-to-head 7-5.
FORM GUIDE: The Cowboys are looking to end a four-game losing run that has dropped them to 13th on the table, six points adrift of the top eight. Cronulla may be in 15th but they showed last Sunday that they are better than that position indicates. They drew 22-all, with the Knights scoring the only three tries of the second half to earn a point.
HOME AND AWAY: The Sharks have won two out of eight at home this season, with the draw against Newcastle thrown in. North Queensland started the season with some good performances away from 1300SMILES Stadium but have lost their last three away matches to leave their record on their travels at 3-5.
KEY STAT: Neither of these clubs has won a game since the end of May so they’ll both view this match as a great chance to end that run of outs.
WHO’S NEW FOR NQ: Coen Hess returns from an ankle injury he sustained in round 15 against the Newcastle Knights, bolstering the Cowboys’ forward pack.
COWBOY TO WATCH: Former Penrith Panther Akeripa Tia Kilifi made a promising debut two weeks for the Cowboys, including 10 runs for 82 metres, despite only having a couple of training sessions with his new team in the build-up. He was in the back-row against the Dragons but will line up in the centres against the Sharks.
SHARK TO WATCH: Valentine Holmes is a big danger at the back for Cronulla, leading their try-scorers’ count with 13 for the season so far, including one in the draw with Newcastle at the weekend. He did come up with three errors as well which is something he’ll be determined to cut back on Friday night.
THE COWBOYS’ FINAL SAY – COACH TODD WILSON:
In our last two games we've been very close but not able to put the opposition away at crucial times and close those games out.
Possession and patience are two major factors in controlling games in the NYC where momentum shifts can have a huge bearing on the final result.
By minimising our unforced errors, executing plays under pressure and fatigue, and then controlling and limiting the opposition’s opportunities with the ball, we can build the pressure required.
Amongst other things, our kicking game and end of sets has to improve and has been a major focus for the whole team in the lead up to the Cronulla match.
Through our training, we have worked on our concentration, communication and doing our job, every play of the game.
This is where the challenge lies in 80 minutes of NYC rugby league.
Indicators from this week’s training are that the team is ready to play after the bye weekend and a short break.
As seen from last weekend’s results in the NYC, a team’s position on the ladder means nothing on game day.
Both teams will be preparing for a tough battle in what should be an open and exciting game of football.