NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS V CANBERRA RAIDERS
Saturday 1 August, 5.30pm, 1300SMILES Stadium
Referee: Gerard Sutton
Assistant referee: David Munro
Video referee: Shayne Hayne and Ben Galea
Touch Judges: Michael Wise and Belinda Sleeman
Broadcast: Fox Sports 1, 4TOFM, Twitter@nthqldcowboys
NYC: Saturday 1 August, 3:15pm
COWBOYS: 2nd on ladder (14 wins, 4 losses): 32 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 8. Matt Scott 9. Jake Granville 10. James Tamou 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14. Rory Kostjasyn 15. John Asiata 16. Scott Bolton 17. Ben Hannant.
RAIDERS: 9th on ladder (8 wins, 10 losses): 20 points (2 byes)
1. Jack Wighton 2. Edrick Lee 3. Jarrod Croker (c) 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Josh McCrone 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.
- The Raiders’ have lost their past seven games in Townsville, while North Queensland has won six of the past eight matches between the sides, home and away.
- Both sides scored an average of four tries per game this season, but the Raiders also concede four tries, while the Cowboys concede three. Similarly, the total points conceded per game is 23 for the Raiders and just 18 for the Cowboys.
- Both teams are completing at 79%.
- The Cowboys’ biggest win over the Raiders was a 40-18 triumph in Townsville in 2012. The Raiders defeated the Cowboys 66-10 in Canberra 19 years ago.
- The Cowboys have won 14 of their past 15 games.
- Raiders workhorse Shaun Fensom has made an average of 44 tackles per games this season. The Cowboys’ Ethan Lowe is his side’s leading tackler with 37 per game, equal to Canberra’s Sia Soliola.
- In comparison between the two sides, the Cowboys have four of the five highest metre earners, with Lachlan Coote (157m), Jason Taumalolo (156m), James Tamou (146m) and Kane Linnett (142m), joined in that group by Canberra’s David Shillington (145m).
- Canberra five-eighth Blake Austin has made 15 line-breaks this season. His opposite Michael Morgan has made 14.
- Raiders sharpshooter Jarrod Croker is the competition’s leading goal kicker, landing 72 of 85 attempts, a strike rate of 85%.
- Hooker Josh Hodgson is among the NRL’s leading proponents of the 40/20, having landed two this season.
- Opposition teams kick to Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote… a lot. Coote has 197 kicks receipts this year, nine more than the NRL’s next busiest kick returner, the Roosters’ Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
- Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston has an incredible 20 try assists this season, six more than the league’s next best in Sharks hooker Michael Ennis.
Two of the game’s most exciting young talents go head-to-head in a battle of speed, power and teamwork as Queensland State of Origin newcomer Michael Morgan and bearded tyro Blake Austin lock horns at 1300SMILES Stadium. Morgan, 23, is playing himself into career-best form after overcoming an ankle complaint through the Origin period, the Townsville junior growing in confidence with every game and just as comfortable running the ball as setting up teammates using vision beyond his years and a slick passing game. Austin, 24, has been a revelation for the Raiders this year and possesses a game similar to that of Morgan. How each of these young talents use their skills and dynamic qualities to take charges of key moments in the game will go a long way to determining the result.
Cowboys: Tautau Moga (knee) – indefinite
Raiders: Sisa Waqa (knee) – Rd 22-23; Luke Bateman (susp) – Rd 23; Sam Williams (pec); Tevita Pangai Junior (knee) – Rd 23-24.
Cowboys coach Paul Green: “Short turnarounds are tricky. It’s probably less about preparation and more about recovery this week.”
Raiders backrower Sia Soliola: “That’s one of the big things we’re going to try and control this week, our completion rate.”