NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v PARRAMATTA EELS
7.30pm, Saturday 23 April, 1300SMILES Stadium
Referees: Gerard Sutton, Peter Gough
Review officials: Bernard Sutton, Jason Robinson, Ben Galea
Touch judges: Jeff Younis, Adam Reid
Cowboys: 2nd (five wins, two losses): 10 points
Eels: 4th (five wins, two losses): 10 points
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Kyle Feldt, 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 James Tamou, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 Rory Kostjasyn, 15 Patrick Kaufusi, 16 Scott Bolton, 17 Ben Hannant. Coach: Paul Green.
Eels: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Semi Radradra, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Brad Takairangi, 5 Clinton Gutherson, 6 Corey Norman (c), 7 Kieran Foran (c), 8 Junior Paulo, 9 Nathan Peats, 10 Daniel Alvaro, 11 Manu Ma’u, 12 Beau Scott, 13 Tepai Moeroa. Interchange: 14 Isaac De Gois, 15 Peni Terepoi, 16 Danny Wicks, 17 Kenny Edwards. Coach: Brad Arthur.
Cowboys: Ray Thompson (ankle); Sam Hoare (knee)
Eels: Tim Mannah (shoulder); Bevan French (elbow); Luke Kelly (ACL); Anthony Watmough (knee/ shoulder)
- The Eels have the second-best defensive record in the competition, having conceded 75 points in seven games. The Cowboys are third on the list with 91 points conceded.
- The Cowboys have scored the most points of any team after seven rounds: 199. The Eels, despite being placed fourth on the ladder, are equal 10th for points scored, with 128, the same as fifth-placed Melbourne and 12th-placed Manly.
- The Cowboys have scored 34 tries to the Eels’ 21. Twenty-six of the Cowboys tries have come from close range (0-20m out), while the remaining eight have been scored from mid-range (21-50m out). The Eels have scored 13 close-range tries, four close-range tries and three long-range (51-100m out).
- Both teams are completing at 75% so far this season.
- Both teams have conceded 13 tries.
- Head-to-head, the Eels have won 18 of the 34 games played between the side, the Cowboys winning 15 and one match drawn.
- In Townsville, that record is eight wins to the Cowboys, five to the Eels and one match drawn.
- The Eels have been one of two teams to beat the Cowboys this season, with a hard-fought 20-16 victory in Round 2.
- Recent history, though, has favoured the Cowboys, with the team having won six of the past eight matches between the sides.
- The Cowboys’ biggest win over the Eels was last year’s 46-4 result in Townsville. The Eels beat the Cowboys 62-0 in 2001.
- Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston is leading the league in point-scoring with 31 goals and one try for 66 points. His 31 goals have come from 36 attempts, or a conversion rate of 86%.
- Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo is eighth in the NRL for running metres with 1,065m over seven games.
- Centre Justin O’Neill is equal third in try-scoring this year with six four-pointers.
- Thurston is equal first in the comp for line-break assists with eight, alongside Cowboys teammate Jake Granville and Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford.
- Thurston is one behind Bronco Ben Hunt for try assists, with nine.
MATCH UPS – GAVIN COOPER v BEAU SCOTT
The two battle-hardened veterans will go head-to-head on the Cowboys’ left edge on Saturday night in a display of contrasting styles.
For the Eels, Scott will provide plenty of muscle and aggression and the State of Origin enforcer will lock to target Cooper’s running mate Johnathan Thurston at every opportunity, like he did for the Knights in Round 2 last year.
Cooper is less explosive but no less effective; he rarely makes a mistake and presents a genuine attacking threat for the Cowboys.
It should be a fascinating duel between two true NRL warriors.
Cowboys coch Paul Green: “Because we do have the travel challenges, it is important for us to bank as many wins as we can here (1300SMILES Stadium).”
Eels coach Brad Arthur: “They’re good right from 1 to 17, and it’s very hard to go and isolate one player in particular. (If) you focus on him (Johnathan Thurston), there’s so many other areas where they can hurt you.”