Unless you happened to be buried under sixteen feet of snow this week you would have heard that the world’s best player, Johnathan Thurston, may well be absent due to a twinge to the hamstring. Will they risk him in a sneaky switch, or will they leave him up in the coach’s box so Michael Morgan and Ray Thompson can prove their value.
Both sides had good results, the Cowboys kept a team to zero for the fourth time this season and even after losing JT after 47 put on some nice tries on the Bulldogs once the line-up had resettled. The Storm was their usual selves, but the score-line did not show how the Roosters were for much of the game.
So we will see the second placed Storm come up to the team that has had their measure in recent seasons. It was against the Storm that the Cowboys kick-started their 2015 season, and they headed down to Melbourne during the finals series and ended it in clinical fashion with a solid victory after being dusted only weeks earlier at the same venue. Now this year the Storm was one point to the good after an amazing period in which the Storm, after giving up penalty after penalty, went unpunished for 47 minutes without changing their play.
So now we come to a game that the bookies would be having the Cowboys as favourites if they were at full strength. With that, you can see that JT is important, but also that the Storm may not be as strong as their position on the ladder would attest. Are there some potential weaknesses in the Storm that the well-coached Cowboys could exploit even without the great Man. Remember, they have had eight days to prepare without him, and they saw enough from the Storm to be confident that they could hold their own.
The Storm are also well coached, they have the Australian Hooker and talent across the park. Last year they lost Billy Slater and found how good Cameron Munster was, this year, the loss may have been difficult for Slater, but they knew they had his replacement well trained. Now, with the Sensational Suliasi Vunivalu scoring of Cooper Cronk’s Cross Kicks, we know that the Storm has found Munster’s replacement as well.
Prediction: The Brain says Storm, but I think it will be close. Storm by 4. Last loss of the season for the Cowboys.
1 Lachlan Coote 2 Javid Bowen 3 Justin O’Neill 4 Kane Linnett 5 Antonio Winterstein
6 Michael Morgan 7 Ray Thompson 8 Matt Scott 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 Cameron Munster 2 Suliasi Vunivalu 3 William Chambers 4 Cheyse Blair 5 Marika Koroibete
6 Blake Green 7 Cooper Cronk 8 Jesse Bromwich 9 Cameron Smith 10 Felise Kaufusi 11 Kevin Proctor 12 Tohu Harris 13 Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14 Kenneth Bromwich 15 Christian Welch
16 Matthew White 17 Young Tonumaipea.