NYC ROUND 25

North Queensland Toyota Cowboys v Cronulla Sharks
6pm, Saturday 30 August
Jack Manski Oval, Brothers Leagues Club

Live updates: twitter.com/nthqldcowboys
Referee: Belinda Sleeman
Touch judges: Nick Morel, Chris Nitsopoulos
Main game: 7pm, Monday 1 September, 1300SMILES Stadium

TEAMS

Cowboys: 1 Jared Verney, 2 Hayden Crowley, 3 Lenny Magey, 4 Scott Schulte, 5 Conor Carey, 6 Delayne Ashby, 7 Yamba Bowie, 8 Jack Kelleher (c), 9 Josh Chudleigh, 10 Viliame Kikau, 11 Coen Hess, 12 Corey Jensen, 13 David Munro. Interchange: 14 Regan Grieve, 15 Andrew Niemoeller, 16 Bill Cullen, 17 Jordan Kenworthy, 18 Ben Mathiou.

Sharks: 1 Dallas Wells 2  Finlay Dibley, 3 Tuli Leota, 4 Jamayne Isaako, 5 Joshua Addo-Carr, 6 Jaden Clarke (c), 7 Connor Tracey, 8 Alec Susino, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Kalausa Leha, 11 Jake Lawrence, 12 Ashleigh Nisbet, 13  Sage Wilder. Interchange: 14 Jayden Walker, 15 Francis Laloua-Tui, 16 Harrison Muller, 17 Semisi Vea, 19 Daniel Liddicoat.

RECENT HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Sharks beat North Queensland 24-22 at Remondis Stadium in round 19 after trailing 18-6 at half time. However, the Cowboys lead the overall head-to-head 7-6.

FORM GUIDE: The 12th-placed Cowboys had won three in a row until they lost back-to-back away games against Penrith and South Sydney to slip well out of the finals race. The Sharks, down in 15th, have only won one of their past five matches and are coming off a 38-16 home loss to 13th-placed Canberra on Sunday.

HOME AND AWAY:  NQ have won four out of 10 at home this year, but all of those games were next door at 1300SMILES Stadium. They beat Manly in a one-off match at Brothers late last season. Meanwhile, Cronulla has been victorious in just two of their 10 away contests.

KEY STAT: Hooker Josh Chudleigh, who is bound for the Cowboys’ NRL squad next year, completed an amazing 60 tackles, with just one miss, in the 16-4 loss to South Sydney last Saturday night. His work rate sets a high standard for his teammates to follow.

WHO’S NEW FOR NQ: Delayne Ashby has been given another chance at five-eighth, while Regan Grieve will hopefully return from an ankle injury. Jared Verney and Jordan Kenworthy will play their first game in Townsville in Cowboys colours after debuting away from home in the past fortnight.

COWBOY TO WATCH:  Even though it’s getting near the end of the season, Fijian front-rower Viliame Kikau is showing no signs of tiring in his rookie year. His stats line against the Rabbitohs included 16 hit-ups for 200 metres, 15 tackle busts, a linebreak and 24 tackles in 60 minutes of playing time.

SHARK TO WATCH: Centre Jamayne Isaako was a real handful for the Cowboys’ defence when these two teams met just six weeks ago. He tallied a team-high 169 metres in 15 runs and had six tackle busts as well. Last weekend against Canberra, Isaako crossed for two of Cronulla’s three tries.

THE COWBOYS’ FINAL SAY – COACH TODD WILSON:  

Last week saw a much-improved performance defensively, with a 10-0 scoreline in the first half and 6-4 in the second.

We missed two genuine scoring opportunities in the first 40 minutes, which we can’t afford to do at this level of competition. 

With Patrick Kaufusi playing for the Northern Pride in the Intrust Super Cup, Villiame Kikau and Josh Chudleigh led the charge in the forwards and were well assisted by Jack Kelleher and debutant Jordan Kenworthy.  

Yamba Bowie was solid in both attack and defence in his first game in the halves and formed a strong partnership with Coen Hess on the left edge.

With two games to go and both played in Townsville, our focus is on performing to expectations both as individuals and as a group.

The Sharks will play with the same intent and we can’t forget that they got the two points last time we met.

Defence will once again be the key and our preparation will be around practising our structures and applying them with the right attitude for 80 minutes. 

Our theme for this week will be to “make every tackle count” and do whatever it takes to deny the opposition momentum and points.

The boys have had some time off early this week to recover from the double Sydney trip last week and are excited about the game being played at Jack Manski Oval on Saturday.

Every game is a new opportunity for our young players and with only two to go there should be no lack of motivation to perform.