ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS V NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS
7.30pm, Saturday 28 May, WIN Stadium
Referee: Grant Atkins, Alan Shortall
Review officials: Luke Patten, Steve Chiddy, Ben Galea
Touch judges: Jason Walsh, Rohan Best
Cowboys: 4th (eight wins, three losses): 16 points
Dragons: 11th (five wins, six losses): 10 points
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Javid Bowen, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Jahrome Hughes, 7 Ray Thompson, 8 Ben Hannant, 9 Jake Granville, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Gavin Cooper (c), 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 Rory Kostjasyn, 15 John Asiata, 16 Coen Hess, 17 Patrick Kaufusi.
Dragons: 1 Jason Nightingale, 2 Kalifa Faifai Loa, 3 Euan Aitken, 4 Tim Lafai, 5 Kurt Mann 6 Gareth Widdop (c), 7 Benji Marshall, 8 Leeson Ah Mau, 9 Mitch Rein, 10 Russell Packer, 11 Jake Marketo, 12 Joel Thompson, 13 Mike Cooper, 14 Jacob Host, 15 Dunamis Lui, 16 Siliva Havili, 17 Will Matthews, 19 Josh McCrone.
Cowboys: Sam Hoare (knee/shoulder) – season
Dragons: Yaw Kiti Glymin (hamstring) – Round 14; Drew Hutchison (hand) – Round 15; Jack de Belin (shoulder) – Round 16; Ben Creagh (knee)/Dylan Farrell (back (indefinite); Mose Masoe (ACL) – season
- The Cowboys totally dominated the Dragons in their round 5 match in Townsville, the 36-0 scoreline giving North Queensland their 15th win over the Dragons in 27 encounters.
- The Cowboys have won five of the past eight matches between the sides. Their biggest win was a 50-4 result in 2000, while the Dragons prevailed 48-12 the following year.
- The Cowboys average five tries a match to the Dragons’ two, and have scored 298 points to 129 over 11 games.
- The Dragons have conceded 232 points in 2016 to the Cowboys’ 158.
- The Cowboys have conceded seven long-range tries (51-100m out) to the Dragons’ one.
- Both teams have been completing at 78% this year.
- Former Cowboy Kalifa Faifai Loa is the Dragons’ leading try-scorer this year with four, while Cowboy Kyle Feldt leads the way for his team with seven.
- Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo is fifth in the comp for total running metres, with 1734 (158m per game), in just a tick over 40 minutes of playing time a game.
- Cowboys players figure in three of the top four places for line break assists – Johnathan Thurston (12), Michael Morgan and Jake Granville (both 10).
- Ethan Lowe, James Tamou and Granville are among the top turnover-forcing tacklers in the comp, with eight each.
MATCH UPS – THE PACKS
With in-form Dragons forward Tyson Frizell available for selection after being named in the initial New South Wales State of Origin squad, the St George team will be strengthened and confident against a Cowboys side missing five of their key players due to rep duty.
But, regular interchange forwards Ben Hannant and Scott Bolton have been strong all year and will relish the chance of starting the game, allowing John Asiata, Patrick Kaufusi and teenager Coen Hess to come off the bench with energy and enthusiasm.
The forwards battle will be intense with former Cowboy Leeson Ah Mau now a stalwart of the Dragons’ pack.
Which pack controls the territory will go a long way to determining the outcome of this one.
Cowboys coach Paul Green: “Things are happening around him, he puts himself in the game, which is what I want to see ... he's been in that sort of form all year for the Blackhawks ... he should be full of confidence and wanting to bring that to us on Saturday night” – on Cowboys debutante Jahrome Hughes.
Josh McCrone (Dragons utility): “The Cowboys' biggest strength these past couple of seasons has been the systems that they run and there’s no doubt whoever does come in will slip straight into them.”