Cooper Bambling | Photo: Robb Cox © NRL Photos

NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS NYC v ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS NYC
2016 NYC Week 1 Qualifying Final
5.15pm, Friday 9 September, Suncorp Stadium

Referee: Michael Gordon
Touch judges
: Liam Kennedy, Dan Munroe

TEAMS

Cowboys: 1 Kalyn Ponga, 2 Gideon Gela-Mosby, 3 Bacho Salam, 4 Enari Tuala, 5 Marcus Jensen, 6 Ty Carucci, 7 Cooper Bambling (c), 8 Darryn Schonig, 9 Brandon Smith, 10 Ross Bella, 11 Cody Maughan, 12 Hiale Roycroft, 13 Tahanui Tutavake. Interchange: 14 Nathan Traill, 15 Corey Horsburgh, 16 Nick Brown, 17 Nick Lui Toso. Coach: Aaron Payne.

Dragons: 1 Matt Dufty, 2 Matheson Johns, 3 Patrick Herbert (c), 4 Izaac Thompson, 5 Paora Kemp, 6 Jai Field, 7 Jack Payne, 8 Matt Jurd, 9 Reece Robson, 10 Blake Lawrie, 11 Luciano Leilua, 12 Topiese, Taufa, 13 Nathan Leatigaga. Interchange: 14 Ali Allouche, 15 TJ Uele, 16 Keelyn Tuuta-Edwards, 17 Jacob Esau, 18 Brayden Gallagher. Coach: Mat Head.

MATCH FACTS

  • The Cowboys under-20s finished the National Youth Competition regular season in second place, with a 16-win, seven-loss, one-draw record.

  • The third-placed Dragons were just two points adrift of the young Cowboys with 15 wins, eight losses and a draw for the year.

  • The Cowboys will field an unchanged team from last week’s side that defeated the Titans 42-22 at 1300SMILES Stadium.

  • The Cowboys have won one and drawn one against the Dragons this season, prevailing 28-18 in round five, while the teams battled out a 30-all draw in Wollongong in Round 12.

  • No fewer than five Cowboys players are in double figures for tries scored this year – winger Marcus Jensen 24 (leading the NYC overall); hooker Brandon Smith 16; winger Gideon Gela-Mosby 13; utility back Nathan Traill 13; fullback Kalyn Ponga 12.

  • Jensen leads Dragons fullback Matt Dufty (23) in the race for the NYC try-scoring title. If Jensen prevails by season’s end, it will be the second year running that a Cowboys player has claimed the honours after Gela-Mosby raced in an unbelievable 39 tries in 2015.

  • As well as scoring plenty of tries, Smith can set them up too, with 18 try assists this year. Smith is the comp’s best dummy-half runner by far with 141 scoots, 22 clear of his nearest rival.

  • Dragons behemoth Luciano Leilua is back after a stint in the NRL – Dufty and Dragons teammate Patrick Herbert share honours for most tackle breaks in the NYC this year, with 146 apiece.

COACH AARON PAYNE: “With our past three games, it’s not the wins that have been the most pleasing, but how we’ve gone about it. We’re starting to execute the things we speak about before the match.”