NYC Cowboys v Eels
12pm, Saturday 10 June
Ringrose Park, Wentworthville
Aaron Payne will be looking for more of the same this weekend when his North Queensland Toyota Cowboys Under-20s search for back-to-back National Youth Competition wins when the Eels play host on Saturday.
With their NRL counterparts in the Top End for an away match against Parramatta, the young Cowboys head to Wentworthville’s Ringrose Park for a midday showdown against the team that handed them a 60-12 hiding in Round 9.
That heavy loss kickstarted a four-match losing run for Payne’s young charges, a slide that was only halted last weekend with a strong showing against the Titans in Townsville.
Since that fateful clash, the Eels have consolidated and sit in fifth on the NYC ladder with eight wins from 13 games, one place ahead of the Cowboys at seven wins from 12 games.
The Cowboys have been bolstered by the return of classy halfback Jake Clifford, who returns from a groin injury, while hard-working backrower Cody Maughan is also back in action.
Clifford’s return means livewire teen Kalyn Ponga moves back to his customary fullback position after a polished performance in the No.7 jersey last weekend.
Ponga finished the game with two tries, two line breaks and three tackle breaks.
Also strong was tireless lock Corey Horsburgh, who backed up from a mid-week Under-20s Origin match to notch a try, three tackle breaks, 31 tackles and 167 running metres from 59 minutes of play.
Look for the Cowboys to test the Eels forwards around the ruck on Saturday, with hooker Calum Gahan (68) and winger Michael Carroll (67) leading the entire competition for dummy half runs this season.