It’s the fourteenth placed North Queensland Cowboys hosting fifteenth placed Canterbury Bulldogs in a must-win clash at 1300 Smiles Stadium on Saturday night.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
It’s been a horrible start for the Cowboys in 2018 with their lone victory coming against Cronulla Sharks back in round 1. Last weekend they faced unbeaten New Zealand Warriors in the double-header at Mount Smart Stadium, with the home side well in control on their way to a 22-12 victory.
Canterbury Bulldogs only victory this season came against Penrith Panthers in round 3 where they held on 20-18. They led for most of the Good Friday clash against South Sydney only to be beaten close to full-time. Last week they faced an under pressure Raiders side who responded to Ricky Stuart’s criticism in recording a 26-10 victory.
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
After spending a few weeks in the Intrust Super Cup, Lachlan Coote returns to the side at fullback. Ben Hampton switches to the centres which is not good news for Javid Bowen who is completely out of the squad.
Josh Jackson’s high tackle downgrade from their loss in Canberra means that the Bulldogs have no changes from last week and are 1-17.
These two teams will be desperate to move up the ladder. In particular the Cowboys who are the most under performed side in 2018. One JT is struggling to orchestrate his side around the part and the other JT is not having as much impact in running metres as we come to expect. The welcome return of Lachlan Coote may see the North Queensland spine at its strongest so far this season which might be bad news for the visitors. Canterbury Bulldogs for all their efforts put in against Penrith Panthers and South Sydney appears to have burst their bubble in their loss to Canberra last week. Another sluggish start might invite the Cowboys to gain confidence and rack up a score.
There will be some interest around the fullback battle to see how Coote goes first game back from injury considering the excellent form of Moses Mbye at the back for the Bulldogs. With criticism levelled at former Wests Tigers prop Aaron Woods, his battle with Matt Scott will be worth keeping an eye on. Both players will be looking to have their name read out for their respective states with selection for the June 6 game closing in.
It looks an uphill battle for the Bulldogs who have struggled against the Cowboys in recent history. Expect the home side to get the vital two points.
North Queensland Cowboys are on a five game winning streak against Canterbury Bulldogs with their latest victory 30-14 at ANZ Stadium last May.
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Ben Hampton, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Michael Morgan, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matthew Scott (c), 9 Jake Granville, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 Te Maire Martin, 15 John Asiata, 16 Corey Jensen, 17 Ethan Lowe. Reserves: 18 Francis Molo, 19 Javid Bowen, 20 Enari Tuala, 21 Jake Clifford
Bulldogs: 1 Moses Mbye, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Will Hopoate, 5 Marcelo Montoya, 6 Jeremy Marshall-King, 7 Kieran Foran, 8 Aaron Woods, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 David Klemmer, 11 Josh Jackson (c), 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 13 Adam Elliott. Interchange: 14 Asipeli Fine, 15 Danny Fualalo, 16 Greg Eastwood, 17 Kerrod Holland. Reserves: 19 John Olive, 20 Rhyse Martin, 21 Renouf Toomaga, 23 Matt Frawley
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday, April 14
Venue: 1300 Smiles Stadium
WHO WILL WIN?