NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS NYC v MELBOURNE STORM NYC
5.15pm, Saturday 30 July, 1300SMILES Stadium
Referee: Chris Treneman
Touch judges: Wyatt Raymond, Zac Schembri
Updates: Twitter @nthqldcowboys
Saturday’s Round 21 clash pits the No.2 Cowboys (12 wins, five losses, one draw) versus the Storm at No.12 (six wins, 11 losses).
Melbourne are coming off a classy two-point win over top-eight aspirants Newcastle last start, while the young Cowboys were impressive in their 44-12 triumph over the Bulldogs at Jack Manski Oval, Townsville.
Injury, however, has continued to hobble NQ, with Ty Carucci (hamstring) the latest casualty for coach Aaron Payne. Carucci left the field in the first half of the 'Dogs match, with Kalyn Ponga moving into the halves from fullback.
The 18-year-old talent will start in the No.6 jersey this week, partnering Jacob Bourke, while Gideon Gela-Mosby will don the No.1.
Michael Carroll comes back into the side on the wing, while Duarne Dempsey will come off the bench after playing last weekend as a late inclusion.
Centre Enari Tuala – a late scratching through injury last match – will start at centre.
Ponga ran for 212m last-start, scored three tries and set two up, and made 10 tackle breaks and four line breaks in a top-shelf effort.
Cowboys hooker Brandon Smith continues to lead the comp from dummy half, with 107 forays this season.
Cowboys: 1 Gideon Gela-Mosby, 2 Michael Carroll, 3 Bacho Salam, 4 Enari Tuala, 5 Marcus Jensen, 6 Kalyn Ponga, 7 Jacob Bourke, 8 Darryn Schonig, 9 Brandon Smith (c), 10 Ross Bella, 11 Emry Pere, 12 Hiale Roycroft, 13 Tahanui Tutavake. Interchange: 14 Duarne Dempsey, 15 Cody Maughan, 16 Kaleb Fuimaono, 17 Nick Lui Toso, 18 Corey Horsburgh. Coach: Aaron Payne.
Storm: 1 Jesse Arthars, 2 Cory Parker, 3 Beau Fermor, 4 Angelo Leaupepe, 5 Talor Walters, 6 Scott Drinkwater, 7 Matt Egan, 8 Lachlan Timm, 9 Connor Donehue, 10 Jaiyden Hunt, 11 Jacob Tonge, 12 Josh Kerr, 13 Louis Geraghty. Interchange: 14 Caleb Daunt, 15 Jordon Remfrey, 16 Blake Mara, 17 Riley Leota. Coach: Eric Smith.
COWBOYS COACH AARON PAYNE: “Really pleasing performance last week, so we’d really love to put in consecutive strong matches.”