Date: Saturday 9th May
Venue: 1300 Smile Stadium
Cowboys: 1) Lachlan Coote 2) Matthew Wright 3) Justin O’Neill 4) Kane Linnett 5) Antonio Winterstein 6) Michael Morgan 7) Johnathan Thurston (c) 8) Matt Scott 9) Jake Granville 10) James Tamou 11) Gavin Cooper 12) Ethan Lowe 13) John Asiata Int: 14) Ray Thompson 15) Rory Kostjasyn 16) Ben Hannat 17) Kelepi Tanginoa 18) Patrick Kaufusi
Bulldogs: 1. Sam Perrett 2. Curtis Rona 3. Josh Morris 4. Chase Stanley 5. Corey Thompson 6. Moses Mbye 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. David Klemmer 11. Josh Jackson 12. Tony Williams 13. Greg Eastwood Interchange: 15. Sam Kasiano 16. Tim Browne 17. Frank Pritchard 18. Lloyd Perrett 19. Antonio Kaufusi
The North Queensland Cowboys return from the international break at home when they face the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at 1300 Smiles Stadium on Saturday night.
It was a mixture of fortunes for the two sides before the week off. The Cowboys come into this fixture on the back of a hard-fought 26-24 victory over the Newcastle Knights.
On the other hand, the Bulldogs struggled against an enthusiastic Wests Tigers side, going down comfortably 38-14.
In team news, the Cowboys welcome back Matthew Wright on the wing which sees Justin O’Neill shift to the wing and Tautau Moga out of the side. The big loss is barnstorming lock Jason Taumalolo who looks set for a fair stint on the sideline. In comes John Asiata and former Eel Kelepi Tanginoa makes his way onto the bench.
The Bulldogs welcome the timely return of Josh Morris to the side who was missing from the Tigers loss with an ankle injury. Moses Mbye shifts to five-eighth in place of the suspended Josh Reynolds.
With the Origin sides named in just a few weeks time, this was a perfect opportunity for the Bulldogs’ halves to stake their claim against Queensland five-eighth Johnathan Thurston. But, a brain explosion from Reynolds in City-Country means he will only have more chance to impress Laurie Daley.
The Cowboys have had an extraordinary turnaround in form after starting the season poorly. That form can be largely thanks to Taumalolo who will be a huge loss for the side. John Asiata hasn’t seen many minutes this season so has a huge task replicating the New Zealanders form.
With no James Graham until next week, the Bulldogs are still missing their inspirational leader. Despite the loss of Taumalolo, the class of Coote, Morgan and Thurston will be too much as the home side will come away with a comfortable victory.
Prediction Cowboys by 10.