The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys host the Penrith Panthers at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday night.
1. CROWD SUPPORT
Tomorrow night’s game has been officially declared a sell-out, triggering a feat not achieved in North Queensland for 26 years. It marks the third sold out game of 2022, following the Melbourne and Brisbane fixtures, which is the first time the club has reached crowd capacity three times in a season since 1996.
2. FINISHING STRONG
The Cowboys host the already crowned minor premiers in the regular season finale. North Queensland can finish as high as second heading into the final round of the season. A victory over the Panthers and a Sharks loss to the Knights on Sunday would see the Cowboys finish second, while a Sharks victory would see the Cowboys finish third and travel to the Shire for week one of the finals.
3. SECOND CHANCE
Saturday’s meeting is the second between North Queensland and Penrith in 2022. Despite a torrid defensive effort from the Cowboys, Penrith were able to secure a 22-nil victory in Sydney. The Panthers hold a 24-19 advantage in the overall head-to-head match-up.
4. HESS OUT, NEAME IN
Star prop Coen Hess will miss the Panthers game after picking up a one-match suspension. Newly re-signed youngster Griffin Neame returns to the side with Reuben Cotter elevated to the starting side. Tom Dearden remains a chance of returning from injury after being named in the reserves.
5. STATS UPDATE
Valentine Holmes holds an 11-point advantage over Roosters half Sam Walker for the NRL point-scoring crown heading into the final round of the season. Holmes sits in 206 points and with finals games still to come he remains a chance to break Johnathan Thurston’s single-season club record of 234 points set in 2014. Jeremiah Nanai ranks third in the NRL with 17 tries, while Chad Townsend sits second with 19 try assists, three behind Mitchell Moses with a game in hand. Townsend also ranks fifth for total kick metres. Scott Drinkwater’s 16 linebreak assists are fifth most, while Reece Robson ranks third with 956 tackles and Peta Hiku fourth with 385 total runs.