North Queensland Toyota Cowboys NYC v Sydney Roosters NYC
1.45pm, Sunday 14 August, Allianz Stadium
Referee: Peter Gough
Touch judges: Todd Smith, Phil Sung
Sunday’s Round 23 clash pits team No.2, the Cowboys (13 wins, five losses, one draw for 31 points) against team No.3 in the Roosters (13 wins, seven losses for 30 points).
Despite both sides having good seasons to date, both were last-start losers.
The Cowboys put in arguably their worst performance of the year in losing 36-12 to the Tigers – an effort that included 54 missed tackles – while the Roosters fell 40-22 to runaway competition leaders Penrith.
The Round 23 clash at Allianz means that the victor will occupy outright second spot with three games remaining.
Cowboys prop Darryn Schonig was the only NQ player to run for over 100m last weekend and the burly Edmonton product will need plenty of help from his pack-mates if the visitors are to roll the Roosters.
Regular five-eighth Ty Carucci returns from a hamstring injury to add size to the Cowboys halves, with dynamic teenager Kalyn Ponga shifting from the No.6 to halfback.
Regular No.7 Cooper Bambling is still out of action with an ankle injury.
The Roosters will have the services of dynamic half Jackson Hastings, the five-eighth having a standout season and having already played a number of NRL games.
The Cowboys will again be without boom back-rower Coen Hess, who has been playing for the Mackay Cutters in the Intrust Super Cup – he'll travel to Sydney as part of the Cowboys NRL team to take on the Roosters at Allianz Stadium.
Coach Aaron Payne: “We were poor last weekend and we know it. The boys are itching to atone against a good side this weekend so their response and attitude at training has been pleasing.”
Cowboys: 1 Gideon Gela-Mosby, 2 Nathan Traill, 3 Bacho Salam, 4 Enari Tuala, 5 Marcus Jensen, 6 Ty Carucci, 7 Kalyn Ponga, 8 Darryn Schonig, 9 Brandon Smith (c), 10 Ross Bella, 11 Cody Maughan, 12 Hiale Roycroft, 13 Emry Pere. Interchange: 14 Duarne Dempsey, 15 Tahanui Tutavake, 16 Kaleb Fuimaono, 17 Nick Lui Toso, 18 Corey Horsburgh. Coach: Aaron Payne.
Roosters: 1 Kiah Cooper, 2 Bernard Lewis, 3 Jarred Anderson, 4 Sitili Tupouniua, 5 Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck, 6. Jackson Hastings, 7 Nicholas Cornish, 8 Poasa Faamausili, 9 Grant Garvey, 10 Ben Thomas, 11 Reuben Porter, 12 Brendan Frei, 13 Nat Butcher Interchange: 14 Victor Radley, 15 Ryan King, 16 Jarrett Boland, 17 Luke Chalker, 18 Sukamanu Raki, 20 Joseph Ratuvakacereivalu. Coach: Anthony Barnes.