NYC preview: Cowboys v Panthers

NYC ROUND 23

North Queensland Toyota Cowboys v Penrith Panthers
4.45pm, Monday 18 August, Sportingbet Stadium

Live updates: twitter.com/nthqldcowboys
Referee: Chris Sutton
Sideline officials: Ricky MacFarlane, Lawrence McDonnell
Main game: 7pm

TEAMS

Cowboys: 1. Yamba Bowie 2. Scott Schulte 3. Lenny Magey 4. Akeripa Tia-Kilifi 5. Conor Carey 6. Ty Carucci 7. Cooper Bambling 8. Jack Kelleher 9. Josh Chudleigh 10. Patrick Kaufusi 11. Coen Hess 12. Corey Jensen 13. David Munro. Interchange: 14. Jared Verney 15. Andrew Niemoeller 16. Jack Brock 17. Ben Mathiou.

Panthers: 1. Logan Geyer 2. Eddy Aiono 3. Waqa Blake 4. Brent Naden 5. Elkander Fairouz 6. Corey Harawira 7. Jarrod Brackenhofer 8. Andy Saunders 9. Kierran Moseley 10. Oliver Clark 11. Chris Smith 12. Dave Cowhan 13. Sione Katoa. Interchange: 14. Jordan Hall 15. Myles Taueli 16. Moses Leota 17. Peter Tia Tia 18. Josh Tangitau.

RECENT HEAD-TO-HEAD:  This is the first Cowboys v Panthers clash since round 22 last year when North Queensland won 22-18 on the Panthers’ home turf. The Cowboys lead the head-to-head 6-3 and have won all three matches at Sportingbet Stadium.

FORM GUIDE: These two teams have the longest current winning streaks in the under-20s. The Cowboys’ three-game run has included home victories against Gold Coast and Wests Tigers and an away win against Canterbury, while the Panthers have downed Cronulla, Canterbury and St George Illawarra in successive weeks. Penrith’s three wins have been by a total margin of 36 points, while the Cowboys’ trifecta has been by 41.

HOME AND AWAY:  Penrith have only lost two of their nine home matches this season, while the Cowboys have a 4-6 win-loss record away from 1300SMILES Stadium.

KEY STAT: The 12th-placed Cowboys are six points outside the top eight. The team in eighth is Penrith so that shows how crucial this game is. If North Queensland lose, their finals chances are gone.

WHO’S NEW FOR NQ: The Cowboys have lost winger Samsen O’Neill for the rest of the season with a broken finger and prop Viliame Kikau to a one-week suspension. Tully Tigers fullback Jared Verney will make his NYC debut after being called up from the Cairns A-grade competition, while Jack Brock returns as a forward option on the interchange bench. 

COWBOY TO WATCH: Josh Chudleigh’s running ability from dummy-half has been one of the highlights of the Cowboys’ play throughout 2014. Against the Tigers last week, he scooted for 122 metres in 11 runs with four tackle breaks.

PANTHER TO WATCH: Queensland Junior Origin hooker Kierran Moseley has spent most of this year playing for the Panthers’ NSW Cup team. However with that squad having a bye this week, he’s back in the NYC and will be a big threat out of dummy-half.

THE COWBOYS’ FINAL SAY – COACH TODD WILSON:  

Last week’s win over the Wests Tigers was one of our most comprehensive performances of the season and our challenge is to maintain that form as we battle the Panthers on their home turf this week.

The loss of Samsen and Viliame is significant although it creates opportunities for other players such as Jared Verny from Tully and Jack Brock who has been in good form for the Burdekin in recent weeks.

Last week’s win was built on a defensive belief and we will continue to make that a priority in our preparations for Monday.

We will need to be better in the unforced error department against the Panthers as we aim to limit their scoring opportunities.

An effective kicking game goes a long way to building pressure and once again that will be a focus this week.

The longer week has allowed the players to get a full recovery as we now start to build for the trip to Sydney.

The team will have their final training session on Sunday morning before heading south in the afternoon.