The Bulldogs head north in a clash that has not been kind for the last couple of seasons. In a quirk of the draw, the Bulldogs/Cowboys have only clashed in Townsville for the last two years, and the Cowboys have walked away with a 7 and 8 point victories. After only two games in two years, both sides will be not only watching the tape from this match to review for their round 25 clash but also for the finals where they may well meet for a third time in less than two months.
The Cowboys will need to play at their best if they are to continue their recent dominance, and now with their spine back on the field, they should be confident that their attack should be able to make the most of any opportunity that may be created. It is here that they have the edge over the Bulldogs, and while they will have to hold off the bench player’s efforts, they should be able to control the ball and possession to eke out a victory.
The Cowboys will be missing Kyle Feldt due to suspension but welcome back Michael Morgan from injury. While the Bulldogs are close to full strength and their run on side is well supported by big men Kasiano and Williams.
The Bulldogs are on a roll, with four wins in a row to finish out the Origin period but they will be facing up to a rested and ready Cowboys, keen to get back into the winner column after their loss to the Raiders.
This match rests on the performances of Big Sam and Tony Williams and how they are contained when they come into the game. Kasiano has been in devastating form in recent weeks and his hard running has been hard to stop and his off-loads have been exceptional and have been key to the Bulldogs success. Without their impact, this game would be a delightful conflict with the speed of both backlines creating havoc whilst the forwards, both with hard running Captains would be worth the price of admission alone.
Who will win it: Serious football at the business end of the season. For mine, this game is actually the Bulldogs to lose. They have been excellent in recent weeks and have a better big man rotation than every other side in the competition. They may lose a bit when it comes to the lock position, but overall they are big and hard to stop at this time. With the changes to the Cowboys and it being Morgo’s first game back, I think they will lack the timing that has won them so many clashes, but will be better for a tough clash and be better for it. Bulldogs by 4.
1 Lachlan Coote 2 Javid Bowen 3 Justin O’Neill 4 Kane Linnett 5 Antonio Winterstein
6 Michael Morgan 7 Johnathan Thurston (c) 8 Matthew Scott (c) 9 Jake Granville 10 James Tamou 11 Gavin Cooper 12 Ethan Lowe 13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange 14 Rory Kostjasyn 15 John Asiata 16 Scott Bolton 17 Ben Hannant
1 Will Hopoate 2 Brett Morris 3 Josh Morris 4 Curtis Rona 5 Sam Perrett 6 Josh Reynolds
7 Moses Mbye 8 Aiden Tolman 9 Michael Lichaa 10 James Graham (c) 11 Josh Jackson
12 Greg Eastwood 13 David Klemmer
Interchange 14 Sam Kasiano 15 Tony Williams 16 Tim Browne 17 Raymond Faitala-Mariner 19 Danny Fualalo 20 Craig Garvey