NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
5.30pm, Saturday 4 June, 1300SMILES Stadium
Referees: Gavin Badger, Chris Sutton
Review officials: Bernard Sutton, Ben Galea, Jason Robinson
Touch judges: Michael Wise, Clayton Sharpe
Cowboys: 4th (eight wins, four losses): 16 points
Knights: 16th (one win, 10 losses, one draw): 3 points
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 19. Ray Thompson, 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, 18 John Asiata. Coach: Paul Green.
Knights: 1 Dane Gagai, 2 Cory Denniss, 3 Sione Mata’utia, 4 Nathan Ross, 5 Jake Mamo, 6 Jaelen Feeney, 7 Trent Hodkinson, 8 Sam Mataora, 9 Danny Levi, 10 Daniel Saifiti, 11 Tariq Sims, 12 Pauli Pauli, 13 Jeremy Smith. Interchange: 14 Tyler Randell, 15 Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 16 Josh King, 17 Mickey Paea, 20 David Bhana, 23 Pat Mata’utia. Coach: Nathan Brown.
Cowboys: Sam Hoare (knee/shoulder) – season; Michael Morgan (concussion) – Round 14; Kalyn Ponga (shoulder) – indefinite; Kyle Laybutt (arm) – indefinite.
Knights: Korbin Sims (suspended) – Round 14; Chanel Mata’utia (knee) – Round 16; Peter Mata’utia (knee) – Round 14-16; Will Pearsall (ankle) – Round 17; Brock Lamb (ankle) – Round 20; Jarrod Mullen (hamstring) – indefinite; Kade Snowden (various) – indefinite; Robbie Rochow (arm) – indefinite; James McManus (concussion) – season.
- Both teams have named extended benches for this Round 13 clash: The Cowboys had five players (Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Justin O’Neill, Michael Morgan and James Tamou) take part in Wednesday’s State of Origin opener, while the Knights had one (Dane Gagai).
- Morgan has already been ruled out of match due to the NRL’s concussion protocols.
- Morgan's place in the team will be taken by Ray Thompson, who will line up for his 100th NRL/Cowboys game. Thompson, 26, made his debut in a Round 26, 2009 win over the Sydney Roosters.
- Teammate Jason Taumalolo will play his 99th NRL/Cowboys game.
- Co-captain Matt Scott will become the outright third-most capped Cowboys player on 220 games, surpassing Aaron Payne (219) and trailling Johnathan Thurston (250) and Matt Bowen (270).
- The Cowboys have scored 308 points this year to the Knights’ 132, and have conceded 172 to their opposition’s 395.
- The home side have scored 52 tries to the Knights’ 22. Of those, 51 Cowboys tries have come from 50m out or closer.
- Newcastle concedes an average of six tries per match.
- Head to head, the Knights lead the Cowboys 19 wins to 15.
- The Cowboys have won five of the past eight clashes between the sides, including their last meeting, a 26-24 victory in 2015. The Cowboys’ biggest win over the Knights was a 52-18 result in 2005 in Townsville.
- The Knights thrashed the Cowboys 60-24 in 2003, also in Townsville.
- Cowboys hooker Jake Granville is in the NRL’s top 10 for penalties conceded, with 13 over 12 games.
- They throw plenty of traffic Johnathan Thurston’s way. The Cowboys co-captain is in the top 10 for missed tackles, with 41. The top six in that category are all halves.
- Thurston is second in the comp for try assists (13) and leads the way in line break assists (12).
- Thurston is third in the NRL on goal-kicking percentages, landing 48 goals from 55 attempts (87%).
- NQ lock Taumalolo is 11th in the comp for total runs (179), but second for total run metres (1924m, or 160m per game).
- Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote is one of five players to have effected two 40/20 kicks this year.
MATCH UPS – COOPER V SIMS
Former North Queensland Toyota Cowboys teammates Gavin Cooper and Tariq Sims square off in a clash of styles, but with each player considered an important on-field forwards leader.
Knights co-captain Sims may very well be playing his last game in Knights colours after linking with the Dragons, and the firebrand second-rower will look to assert himself in the contest with his trademark explosive runs and aggressive defence.
Workhorse Cooper has had a busy week, travelling to Sydney as part of Queensland’s extended State of Origin squad.
He didn’t take the field at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night, so look for him to take some of the heavy lifting off Matt Scott and James Tamou, both playing in Origin I for the Maroons and the Blues respectively.
Cooper is a defensive juggernaut and will look to combine with Johnathan Thurston on that left side, which has reaped rewards many times in the past several seasons.
Either of these men could help inspire their side to a memorable performance.
Cowboys coach Paul Green: “They (the Knights) were unlucky last week. They probably deserved to win that game. There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm about the way they played.”
Knights coach Nathan Brown: “As the effort was, I think everyone should be proud of what they did last night because Parramatta is quite a strong side.”