MELBOURNE STORM v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS NYC
Saturday 29 August, 5.15pm
AAMI Park           
Referee
: Kasey Badger
Touch judges
: Dan Olford and Dave Basham

TEAMS

Cowboys: 1.Kalyn Ponga 2. Gideon Mosby 3. Akeripa Tia Kilifi 4. Conor Carey 5. Scott Schulte 6. Kyle Laybutt 7. Cooper Bambling 8. Viliame Kikau 9. Brandon Smith 10. Braden Uele 11. Coen Hess  12. Temone Power 13. Jordan Kenworthy. Interchange: 14. Mitch Dunn 15. Kieran Quabba © 16. David Munro 17. Ross Bella 18. Bill Cullen.

Storm: 1. Charnze  Nicoll-Klokstad  2. Tony Tomusa 3. Latrell Robinson  4. Junior Kirisome 5. Josh Minhinnick 6. Mack Mason  7. Jake Turpin 8. Ben Nakubuwai  9. Aaron Teroi 10. Josh Kerr 11. Joe Stimson 12. Charlie Galo  13. Brendan Frei.  Interchange: 14. Jerry Leasi 15. Jamayne Taunnda-Brown 16. Logan Houghton 19 John Filipo.

KEY FACTS

Todd Payten’s young Cowboys are in the box seat for the minor premiership with two rounds remaining. Their 24-10 last-start win over the Warriors – and the Panthers’ shock 28-16 loss to the Dragons – sees the NQ team on 41 points to Penrith’s 40 with two regular season matches remaining. Win against the Storm this weekend and the Titans in Round 26 and the Cowboys will be crowned minor premiers.

While a lot of the Cowboys’ victories this year have been built on sheer offensive firepower – simply outpointing the opposition due to the great many number of scoring threats the team possesses – the win over the Warriors was one of the side’s better defensive displays of the year. Payten was especially pleased with the team’s scrambling efforts and intensity. To keep a team to 10 points in the NYC is no mean feat.

The win over the Warriors was the team’s 12th victory, their last loss coming in round 10 against the Broncos.

The Cowboys welcome young tyro Coen Hess back into the fold after the 19-year-old made his National Rugby League debut against the Warriors last weekend. Hess impressed with strong carries, solid defence and a try on debut, but made way this weekend for injury returnees Gavin Cooper and Scott Bolton.

Winger Gideon Mosby scored another try in his last match, making it 32 four-pointers from 21 games. He is the runaway leader in the competition for tries and still has two games left to extend the all-time record he passed in Round 23.

Mosby is also the competition leader for running metres (3340) and line breaks (32), his efforts earning him a contract extension with the club until 2017.

Fullback Kalyn Ponga continues to impress just a handful of games into his NYC career. The 17-year-old had his best game against the Warriors, scoring a try, making an incredible 20 tackle busts, five line breaks and 327m from 21 carries.

The NYC Storm team are currenty in 10th place with a nine-win, 12-loss, one-draw record for 23 points but are still a chance of maing the eight. The Cowboys will be wary of their opposition, and believe their form and ability belies their actual ladder position.

Threats from Melbourne come from their wingers Tony Tomusa and Josh Minhinnick, along with mobile backrower Josh Kerr.

COACH TODD PAYTEN: “Our defensive commitment and scramble was fantastic last week. I’ll be looking for a repeat of that effort against the Storm.”