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Five things to know: Round 7 v Raiders

The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys host the Canberra Raiders on Saturday night at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

1. PAYING TRIBUTE

This weekend the NRL celebrates Defence Round and with the Cowboys calling a proud garrison city like Townsville home, Saturday night’s game shapes as one of the biggest on the calendar. North Queensland have long lobbied to host a Defence Round game and was granted that wish in 2020, only to have the season postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cowboys will wear specifically designed Defence jerseys, which will be auctioned off post-game with all proceeds going to the Cowboys Community Foundation. Two-for-one tickets are available for all Defence and RSL service personnel.

2. STICKING FIRM

Todd Payten has named an unchanged line-up for the first time in his tenure as Cowboys Head Coach on the back of the victory over the Bulldogs. Lachlan Burr and Coen Hess hold their respective lock and prop positions after dominant showings in Round 7, while Mitch Dunn remains on the interchange after an impressive return from injury.

3. STORIED HISTORY

North Queensland have only met Brisbane and Cronulla more times than their 44 clashes with the Raiders since entering the competition in 1995. After some tough matchups against the powerhouse Raiders sides of the 90s, the Cowboys began to wrestle back the ascendancy in the mid-2000s. Canberra still hold a 24-19 lead in the overall match-up, including a 14-12 victory in Round 12 last season.

4. SHARP SHOOTER

Cowboys fullback Valentine Holmes has enjoyed facing the Raiders over the course of his career. Holmes has scored six tries in eight appearances against Canberra, including a double in Round 10 of the 2018 season. The 25-year-old has been in red-hot form with the boot over the past fortnight, kicking 10 goals from 11 attempts.

5. CURTAIN RAISER

Cowboys fans will be treated to a little extra on-field action on Saturday night. To help commemorate Defence Round, the Army Thunder will face the Palm Island Skipjacks in the annual Bill Coolburra Shield clash. The game will be followed by a performance from the 1RAR Band and an Anzac remembrance ceremony after the Cowboys and Raiders take the field, including the Ode, Last Post and both the Australian and New Zealand National Anthems.