NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v CANTERBURY BULLDOGS NYC

Date: 5.15pm, Saturday 26 July
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Live updates: twitter.com/nthqldcowboys
Referee: Chris Sutton
Touch judges: Luke Potter, Scott Murray
Main game: 7.30pm

TEAMS

Cowboys: 1 Yamba Bowie, 2 Samsen O’Neill, 3 Lenny Magey, 4 Akeripa Tia Kilifi, 5 Conor Carey, 6 Ty Carucci, 7 Cooper Bambling, 8 Viliame Kikau, 9 Josh Chudleigh, 10 Patrick Kaufusi, 11 Coen Hess, 12 Corey Jensen, 13 Jack Kelleher (c). Interchange: 14 Delayne Ashby, 15 Andrew Niemoeller, 16 David Munro, 17 Michael Barclay, 18 Ben Mathiou, 20 Kieran Quabba.

Bulldogs: 1. Marcelo Montoya 2. Dujuan Liolevave 3. Michael Morgan 4. Tuuta Langi 5. Tautalatasi Tasi 6. Brenden Cox 7. Guy Hamilton 8. Jake Kamire 9. Robbie Kamoto 10. Herman Essese 11. Renouf To'omaga 12. Shaun Lane 13. Brendon Luamanu. Interchange: 14. Brad Keighran 15. Darcy Maroske 16. Sonny Tupuola 17. Royce Hunt.

RECENT HEAD-TO-HEAD: These two clubs haven’t met since round 13 last season when three tries to Javid Bowen, including one four minutes from full time, rescued a 24-all draw for the Cowboys at 1300SMILES Stadium. The overall ledger is 4-3 in the Cowboys’ favour.

FORM GUIDE: There should be two very desperate teams in action in this one with the Cowboys 14th and the Bulldogs 16th. North Queensland have lost their last five but only went down by two to Cronulla last Friday night. Canterbury’s last victory came back in round 10 – a highly meritorious one-point victory against the Warriors in New Zealand. 

HOME AND AWAY:  The Bulldogs have won just on out of eight at home this season. North Queensland started the season with some good performances away from 1300SMILES Stadium but have lost their last four away matches to leave their record on their travels at 3-6.

KEY STAT: Even though they had fewer missed tackles (45 to 27), a better completion rate (75.6% to 69.4%), more linebreaks (7 to 3), more penalties (12-9) and the same number of errors (11-all), the Cowboys weren’t able to win against the Sharks.

WHO’S NEW FOR NQ: Patrick Kaufusi has been waiting a long time for this weekend to come around. It’s his first game since he tore his pectoral muscle in round one against the Canberra Raiders. A full-time member of the club’s NRL training squad, his return is a huge plus for the young Cowboys. Ty Carucci is back at five-eighth while Ben Mathiou is a chance to make his NYC debut off the bench.

COWBOY TO WATCH: Final-year winger Samsen O’Neill is coming off arguably his best game of the season for NQ. His stats line against Cronulla included team highs in metres gained (179m) and tackle busts (15). He was also responsible for two linebreaks.

BULLDOG TO WATCH: Fullback Marcelo Montoya is capable of gathering up plenty of metres for the Dogs. Against Manly earlier this month, he broke the 200m barrier in 18 hit-ups. However, he was held to just 57m by the Tigers last week.

THE COWBOYS’ FINAL SAY – COACH TODD WILSON:  

Last week’s close loss to the Sharks saw us dominate in every key stat except for the one that really counts – the score.

We created plenty of opportunities but weren’t able to capitalise on them as players like Samsen O’Neill and Bill Kikau broke through the Shark’s defence.

On the other side of the coin, our defence, which at times can be very solid, lacks consistency which leads us to leaking points at crucial parts of the game.

We must be more resilient in defence this week and deny the Bulldogs of easy scoring opportunities. 

The return of Patrick Kaufusi after only playing 20 minutes of football this season is a credit to how hard he has worked to get back on the field.

He will bring some much needed firepower and a boost of confidence to the players around him.

Our boys have trained strongly this week, knowing that there are no easy games in this competition and both teams will be preparing to get a much-needed win when we clash at ANZ on Saturday night.