NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v CRONULLA SHARKS
Round 16, 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership
5.30pm, Saturday 27 June, 1300SMILES Stadium
Referees: Grant Atkins, Gavin Reynolds
Video refs: Bernard Sutton, Steve Folkes
Touch judges: Michael Wise, Belinda Sleeman
Broadcast: Fox Sports 1, 4TOFM
Cowboys: 2nd on ladder (11 wins, 3 losses): 24 points (1 bye)
Sharks: 7th on ladder (6 wins, 7 losses): 16 points (2 byes)
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Matthew Wright, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Rory Kostjasyn, 7 Michael Morgan, 8 Matt Scott (c), 9 Jake Granville, 10 James Tamou, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 Cameron King, 15 John Asiata, 16 Ben Hannant, 17 Patrick Kaufusi, 18 Robert Lui.
Sharks: 1 Jack Wighton 2 Edrick Lee 3 Jarrod Croker (c) 4 Sisa Waqa 5 Jordan Rapana 6 Blake Austin 7 Sam Williams 8 Paul Vaughan 9 Josh Hodgson 10 David Shillington 11 Josh Papalii 12 Sia Soliola 13 Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14 Kurt Baptiste 15 Jarrad Kennedy 16 Frank-Paul Nuuausala 17 Shannon Boyd.
Cowboys: Tautau Moga (knee), Javid Bowen (shoulder), Johnathan Thurston (rested)
Sharks: Blake Ayshford (back), Antony Tupou (jaw), Kyle Stanley (knee), Fa’amanu Brown (knee), Jacob Gagan (achilles)
- The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys have won their past 11 matches, which continues a new outright club record. Their last defeat was in round three, a 44-22 loss to the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
- These teams have played each other 35 times, with Cronulla winning 21 and North Queensland 11. The Sharks are 10 wins, eight losses against the Cowboys at 1300SMILES Stadium. The Cowboys have won six of the past eight matches between the clubs.
- North Queensland’s biggest win over the Sharks was a 56-14 triumph in Townsville in 2005.
- The Cowboys have the fifth-largest home crowd average of the 16 NRL teams this year, with 16,042 per game.
- Cowboys hooker Jake Granville’s recent good form is reflected in the stats – he ranks fifth for hooker in dummy-half metres per game (80).
- The Cowboys have the third-best completion rate in the comp (78%), behind Melbourne (80%) and Canberra (79%).
- Sharks hooker Michael Ennis is averaging 35 tackles a game this season.
MATCH UPS – Michael Morgan v Jeff Robson
Given star Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston is being rested for the Sharks match, his halves partner Michael Morgan will be called upon to provide the team’s attacking punch against an unpredictable Sharks team.
Morgan’s great assets are his speed and strength, and when he combines these gifts, he has a top-shelf running game, regardless of whether he’s wearing the six or seven on his back.
Morgan’s opposite Jeff Robson is more the calm organiser, and the contrasts between these two talented halfbacks will make for fascinating viewing on Saturday night.
Cowboys coach Paul Green: "We’re replacing an Origin player with an Origin player" – on Michael Morgan coming in after a week off with injury and Johnathan Thurston rested for the Sharks match.
Ben Barba (Sharks utility): “I think we need every player on the park this week and that includes the big fella” – on skipper Paul Gallen.