The Tiger’s head north with a new coach, but will Ivan Cleary have much impact as he is only just settling into his new job, and already knows that at least one of his big four will be out the door at seasons end. The Cowboys on the other hand, will head in with another big signing. Skipper and club legend Johnathan Thurston believed to be finishing out his career as a Cowboy.
LAST TIME OUT
The Tigers jump on the plane after what only could be politely called a very poor performance against the Dragons. A lack of scoring firepower or just brilliant defence kept the Tigers down to a single try, and a leaking Tiger’s line let in five tries including a first half hattrick to Jason Nightingale. This could have been worse if it was not for Dugan going down with 22-minutes left. When you look at the match stats, there was nothing between the two sides, and so it was down to the finishing of the Dragons or the lack of defence that cost the Tigers any chance of victory.
The Cowboys were home to the Bunnies on Friday night football and it was a professional display that both tied down the few attacking raids and scored through some decent defensive efforts that were worn down and stretched by the Cowboys. With another injury, this time to Jake Granville, they will be further digging deep into their squad to provide their team, but with Ben Hampton coming in, the drop off in quality is not as dramatic as it would be for some sides. Coen Hess was cleverly deployed against the Bunnies and his mere presence opened the gap that let Michael Morgan cut through for the try that opened up the Cowboys night.
The battle between the MM&MMs will determine who is the real Smartie. The Five-Eighths will be keys to this game and we see the man who turned down three million dollars up against one of the league’s best, Will Mitchell Moses give his side the advantage or will Michael Morgan continue with his excellent form so far this season.
The second key will be between the replacement hooker in Ben Hampton and former Cronulla Shark Matt McIlwrick. McIlwrick was the best Hooker in the NSW ISC last season and earned his promotion after a few years developing his game and has not been the Tiger’s worst by any measure. Ben Hampton has been a handy pickup from the Storm this off season and will have to use the experience gained in the Bellamy system to help out his new club on Saturday.
The Cowboys at home are always (well, Manly excluded) tough to face and Saturday evening will be no different. Upheaval at the Tigers and the rumblings coming from Moses and now Tedesco may add further discord into the struggling side that has not seen victory since round 1. The Cowboys should be able to meet and beat the Tigers in both attack and defence, and do it comfortably. Cowboys by 8+
Cowboys: 1. Lachlan Coote 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Javid Bowen 4. Kane Linnett
5. Gideon Gela-Mosby 6. Michael Morgan 7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Patrick Kaufusi
9. Ben Hampton 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Kalyn Ponga 15. John Asiata 16. Coen Hess 17. Shaun Fensom 18. Sam Hoare 20. Corey Jensen 21. Blake Leary 22. Ben Spina
Tigers: 1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Jamal Idris 4. Kevin Naiqama
5. Moses Suli 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Jack Littlejohn 8. Aaron Woods 9. Matt McIlwrick
10. Ava Seumanufagai 11. Josh Aloiai 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Elijah Taylor 14. Tim Grant 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Michael Chee-Kam 17. Jacob Liddle 18. Kyle Lovett 19. Joel Edwards 20. Justin Hunt 21. Junior Tatola