MELBOURNE STORM v NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS
Saturday, 29 August, 7.30pm
AAMI Park
Referee
: Ben Cummins 
Assistant referee: Alan Shortall
Video referees
: Bernard Sutton and Ben Galea
Touch judges: Steve Carrall and Adam Reid

TEAMS:

Cowboys: 3rd on ladder (16 wins, 6 losses): 36 points (2 byes)
1. Lachlan Coote, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Justin O’Neill, 4. Kane Linnett, 5. Antonio Winterstein, 6. Ray Thompson, 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. Ben Spina.

Storm: 6th on ladder (12 wins, 10 losses): 28 points (2 byes)
1. Cameron Munster, 2.Marika Koroibete, 3. William Chambers, 4. Kurt Mann, 5. Matt Duffie, 6. Blake Green, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Tim Glasby, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Kenny Bromwich (c). Interchange: 14. Ryan Hinchcliffe, 15. Felise Kaufusi,  16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 17. Jordan McLean.

MATCH FACTS:

  • The Cowboys have won nine of 28 matches played against the Storm.
  • The teams have played each other at AAMI Park twice, with one win apiece.
  • The Cowboys have won three of the past four matches between the sides, and four of the past six.
  • The Cowboys edged the Storm 18-17 in Round 4 at 1300SMILES Stadium.
  • The Storm’s biggest win over the Cowboys was a 58-12 triumph in Townsville in 1997, while the NQ downed the Storm 40-8 in Townsville in 2006. Melbourne beat NQ by 58-12 on another occasion also – in 2010 at Melbourne Park.
  • The Storm have let in 58 tries to the Cowboys’ 74 in 2015. Only four of those 58 have been long-range tries from 50m or more out. The Cowboys have conceded 14 tries from within the same zone.
  • The Cowboys outscore the Storm in long-range tries 13 to 7.
  • Both sides score an average of four tries a game and concede three.
  • The Storm and the Cowboys both complete at 78 per cent, the equal best in the league alongside Brisbane and Canberra.
  • The Cowboys lead the competition in actual completed sets with 683. The Storm are second at 660.
  • Storm prop Jesse Bromwich has the second-most number of hit-ups/runs in the comp with 369, behind only Roosters’ Roger Tuivasa-Scheck (491).
  • Hooker Jake Granville (Cowboys) and Cameron Smith (Storm) and numbers two and three for dummy-half runners with 143 and 134 respectively. Rabbitoh Isaac Luke is the runaway leader in that category with 190.
  • Smith gives away the second-most penalties in the comp, with 24, behind Titans forward Ryan James (28).

MATCH UPS: Cameron Munster v Lachlan Coote           

With Billy Slater out for the season with a shoulder injury, Cameron Munster has filled in admirably at fullback over the past seven months. His dynamic carries and elusiveness have proven a handful for opposition defences, and his attacking potency will be heavily relied upon as the Storm look to finish the regular season as high as possible. In Lachlan Coote, the Cowboys have the ultimate positional fullback and professional, with the NQ No.1 in good form and able to ball-run or ball-play as required. It will be an interesting contrast of styles.

FINAL WORD:

Paul Green: “The luxury of having Rory (Kostjasyn) on the bench is that he covers almost every position on the field.”

Ryan Hinchcliffe (Storm forward): “The main thing was probably our defence, they seemed to roll through the middle of our field pretty easily” – on Newcastle in Round 25.

CASUALTY WARD:

Cowboys: Tautau Moga (knee)/Cameron King (knee)/ Michael Morgan (ankle)/James Tamou (neck) – indefinite; Sam Hoare (ankle) – Round 26; Hezron Murgha (suspended) – Round 26.

Storm: Dale Finucane (wrist) – FW1-FW3; Billy Slater (shoulder) – season.