Cowboys v Sea Eagles PREVIEW!

North Queensland Toyota Cowboys v Manly Sea Eagles
Round 19, 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership
7pm, Monday 20 July, Brookvale Oval

Referees: Gerard Sutton, Alan Shortall
Video referees: Shayne Hayne, Ben Galea
Touch judges: David Ryan, Kasey Badger
Broadcast: Fox Sports 1, 4TOFM, Twitter@nthqldcowboys 

TEAMS

Cowboys2nd on ladder (12 wins, 4 losses): 28 points (2 byes)
1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Matthew Wright, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Michael Morgan, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matt Scott (c), 9 Jake Granville, 10 Ben Hannant, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 Rory Kostjasyn, 15 John Asiata, 16 Scott Bolton, 17 Sam Hoare, 18 Patrick Kaufusi.

Sea Eagles: 13th on ladder (6 wins, 10 losses): 16 points (2 byes)
1 Brett Stewart 2 Jorge Taufua 3 Jamie Lyon (c) 4 Steve Matai 5 Tom Trbojevic 6 Kieran Foran 7 Daly Cherry-Evans 8 Jake Trbojevic 9 Matt Ballin 10 Willie Mason 11 Feleti Mateo 12 Tom Symonds 13 Dunamis Lui. Interchange: 14 Luke Burgess 15 Josh Starling 16 Justin Horo 17 Ligi Sao 19 Jayden Hodges.

CASUALTY WARD

Cowboys: Tautau Moga (knee), James Tamou (suspended – Rd 20)

Sea Eagles: Blake Leary (back), Peta Hiku (knee), Cheyse Blair (back), Jamie Buhrer (knee), Clinton Gutherson (knee)

MATCH FACTS

  • The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys are aiming for an unprecedented eighth-straight road win on Monday night. The team have a 7-1 record away from 1300SMILES Stadium this season, their only losses in that category coming in round 3 against the Broncos.

  • Cowboys second-rower Gavin Cooper will play his 200th NRL game against the Sea Eagles on Monday night. The veteran forward has played for three clubs in a 10-season NRL career, including two stints at the Cowboys (2006 and 2011-present). Cooper played 36 games for the Titans in 2007-08 and 40 matches for the Panthers in 2009-10. He has scored 46 tries in his NRL career, including seven this season. The Queensland product has proven extremely durable over his decade-long professional rugby league career and has not played fewer than 14 games in any of his seasons.

  • Manly lead North Queensland 15 to nine in head-to-head matches played. They edge the Cowboys 4-2 at Brookvale and have won six of the past eight clashes between the sides. The Cowboys, though, have won the past two matches including a last-gasp 18-14 win at 1300SMILES Stadium in round 12 this year.

  • Manly’s biggest win over North Queensland was a 46-4 triumph at Brookvale in 1996, while the Cowboys have twice beaten the Sea Eagles by 14 points: 26-12 in 2009 and 30-16 last year.

  • This season, the Cowboys score an average of four tries a match, and concede three; while the reverse is true for the Sea Eagles.

  • The Cowboys have scored an average of 21 points a game this season, and conceded 19 points a game. That they’ve only lost four matches in 2015 further underpins the side’s ability to win the close ones.

  • The Cowboys have completed 495 sets this season, the best in the NRL by 12 sets (Storm). They’re equal with the Storm and the Raiders for best completion rates (79%).

MATCH UPS – Johnathan Thurston v Daly Cherry-Evans               

The Cowboys’ star half Johnathan Thurston hasn’t played a club match for a month, and with the 2015 State of Origin series done and dusted, the champion No.7 will be itching to get back out there in Cowboys colours.

While Thurston will be riding high following Queensland’s emphatic triumph, his Manly opposite in Cherry-Evans may have mixed emotions given he was dropped for the series-clinching game three.

To that end, the Mackay product will be chomping at the bit to prove himself against one of the game’s modern-day greats in Thurston.

Thurston will look to control the game from the outset with his leadership, involvement and flashes of individual brilliance, while Cherry-Evans and halves partner Kieran Foran will need to be disciplined and committed for the entire 80 minutes.

FINAL WORD

Cowboys coach Paul Green: “The confidence he'll get out of that will be good for him but good for us as well“  on five-eighth Michael Morgan’s starring cameo in the third State of Origin match.

Manly coach Geoff Toovey: “He’ll be out to prove a point (after being dropped from Origin), but in saying that, he’s got a fair opposite there in Johnathan Thurston” – on star halfback Daly Cherry-Evans.