FINALS, WEEK 2: COWBOYS V SEA EAGLES
Saturday 26 September, 5pm
Referee: Adam Gee
Touch judges: Anthony Elliott and Kasey Badger
COWBOYS: 1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Gideon Mosby, 3. Akeripa, Tia Kilifi, 4. Conor Carey, 5. Scott Schulte, 6. Kyle Laybutt, 7. Cooper Bambling, 8. Ross Bella, 9. Brandon Smith, 10. Braden Uele, 11. Coen Hess, 12. Temone Power, 13. Jordan Kenworthy. Interchange: 14. Andrew Niemoeller, 15. Mitch Dunn, 16. Kieran Quabba, (c) 17. David Munro, 18. Bill Cullen.
SEA EAGLES 1. Tom Trbojevic, 2. Jesse Bogle, 3. Addison Demetriou, 4. Jesse Ramien, 5. Mitch Thomas, 6. Will Pearsall, (c) 7. Riley Travers, 8. Liam Knight, 9. Hugh Pratt, 10. Jesse Maxwell, 11. Luke Garner, 12. Billy Bainbridge, 13. Darcy Cox. Interchange: 14. Nicho Hynes, 15. James Parker, 16. Dallas Koen,17. Moses Noovao-McGreal.
The Cowboys have the chance to return to the National Youth Competition grand final for the first time since 2011 when the team lost the decider to the Warriors. They finished second on the ladder and helped the club secure its maiden club championship.
All-time NYC try-scoring record-holder Gideon Mosby can crack 40 four-pointers for the season if he crosses twice on Saturday.
In what shapes as a fascinating fullbacks duel, rising star Tom Trbojevic goes head-to-head with boom NYC rookie Kalyn Ponga. Trbojevic has had a truly breakout year, making his NRL debut – and shining – while providing match-turning and match-winning heroics whenever he plays in the NYC. Trbojevic was scored an incredible 19 tries in 12 NYC appearances this year, while Ponga – initially ruled out of playing for the season due to a sinus infection – has made every post a winner in scoring eight tries from his seven NYC games to date. Both young men possess the full array of skills, with their open-field running the real standout. Trbojevic has made an astonishing 91 tackle breaks in his 12 games, while Ponga is shrugging off would-be defenders at a similar clip, with 59 from his seven matches. The performances of this pair will be worth attending the match alone.
Aside from Trbojevic, the Cowboys will be wary of blockbusting centre Addison Demetriou, who made 15 tackle busts in last week’s win over West Tigers.
The Cowboys will be without star prop Viliame Kikau, rules out with an ankle injury incurred in the Week 1 finals win over the Broncos. Kikau was recently names the Rugby League Players’ Association NYC Player of the Year following his breakthrough season. Ross Bella steps into the starting prop’s role alongside Braden Uele.
While Kikau is out, the team do welcome back inspirational hooker Andrew Niemoeller who returns to the team after several weeks out with a broken arm.
COACH TODD PAYTEN: “We won’t be underestimating the Sea Eagles … not one bit.”