NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
7.30pm, Saturday 20 August, 1300SMILES Stadium
Referees: Ashley Klein, Adam Gee
Review officials: Bernard Sutton, Ben Galea, Steve Chiddy
Touch judges: Brett Suttor, Nick Morel
Cowboys: 5th (12 wins, nine losses, two byes): 28 points
Warriors: 9th (10 wins, 11 losses, two byes): 24 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 Ray Thompson, 10 James Tamou, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 Rory Kostjasyn, 15 Coen Hess, 16 Scott Bolton, 17 Patrick Kaufusi. Coach: Paul Green.
Warriors: 1 David Fusitu’a, 2 Ken Maumalo, 3 Blake Ayshford, 4 Solome Kata, 5 Manu Vatuvei, 6 Thomas Leuluai, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 Jacob Lillyman, 9 Jazz Tevaga, 10 Albert Vete, 11 Bodene Thompson, 12 Ryan Hoffman (c), 13 Simon Mannering. Interchange: 14 Nathaniel Roache, 15 Sam Lisone, 16 Ben Matulino, 17 James Gavet, 20 Bunty Afoa. Coach: Andrew McFadden.
Cowboys: Ben Hannant (knee) – Round 26; Jake Granville (hand) – Round 25; Sam Hoare (knee/shoulder) – season; Patrick Mago (suspended) – season.
Warriors: Isaac Luke (knee) – Round 26; Charlie Gubb (suspension) – Finals Week 1; Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (ACL)/Sione Lousi (ACL) - season.
- History: Played 35 – Warriors 18, Cowboys 17. These sides have split their previous eight games dating back to 2011.
- The Cowboys have won their past two matches against the Warriors, both played last year: a 28-24 triumph in Townsville in Round 7 and a 50-16 mauling in Auckland in Round 24.
- The Cowboys’ biggest win over the Warriors was a 52-12 win in Townsville in 2012. The Warriors downed the Cowboys 52-6 in New Zealand in 1996.
- Points for: Cowboys 494, Warriors 445
- Points against: Cowboys 317, Warriors 475
- Tries scored: Cowboys 83, Warriors 82
- Tries conceded: Cowboys 51, Warriors 82
- Average points scored: Cowboys 24, Warriors 21
- Average points conceded: Cowboys 15, Warriors 23
- Completions: Cowboys 77%, Warriors 76%
- The Cowboys concede two tries per match and the Warriors four.
- The Warriors have scored nine long-range tries (51-100m out) to the Cowboys’ two this season.
- The Cowboys score the bulk of their tries from close-range (0-20m) with 60 of their 83 tries this season scored in that manner.
- Defensively, the Cowboys let in the greatest number of tries from close range: 36 from a total of 51 in season 2016.
- If the match is close, goalkicking could be a factor: the Cowboys – led by Johnathan Thurston and backed up by Ethan Lowe – have an 85% success rate with the boot to the Warriors’ 75%.
- The Warriors dish out nine offloads per match to the Cowboys’ seven.
- The visitors also edge the hosts in line breaks per match, five to four.
- The Warriors make an average of five handling errors per match to their opponents’ four.
- The Warriors boast the top two average tacklers across the two teams, with Simon Mannering (47) and Bodene Thompson (40) leading the way.
- The visitors have four of the five most prolific line break merchants across the season: Shaun Johnson, Tuimoala Lolohea (14 apiece), Solomone Kata and David Fusitu’a (both on 13), with Cowboy Antonio Winterstein (10) filling the top five.
KEY MATCH-UP – THURSTON v JOHNSON
It’s the champion No.7 with a proven track record – and boasting nearly every individual and team accolade in the game – versus one of the competition’s most exciting talents.
Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston will be desperate to help pilot his team back into the winner’s circle and he will use all his game management skills, tactical savvy and pure competitiveness to get his team on the line.
Warriors maestro Shaun Johnson is a game winner on his day and he’ll be keen to atone for his side’s poor showing against the Rabbitohs last-start.
Look for the Kiwi dynamo to try and turn the match with an individual piece of brilliance, while JT will take a more whole-of-team approach to getting that coveted victory.
Cowboys coach Paul Green: “They’re a big team, they’ll be desperate for a win and they’re in touch with that top eight.”
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden: “We’re looking for a lot more from our forwards this week. We need to do much better in the battle in the middle in what will be a really tough game for us.”