Date: Saturday March 14 2015
Venue: 1300 Smiles Stadium
Kick-Off: 8pm (QLD), 9pm (NSW)
North Queensland Cowboys 1. Michael Morgan, 2. Justin O’Neill, 3. Matthew Wright, 4. Kane Linnett, 5. Antonio Winterstein, 6. Robert Lui, 7. Johnathan Thurston, 8. Matt Scott, 9. Rory Kostjasyn, 10. Ben Hannant, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Ethan Lowe, 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14. Jake Granville, 15. Kelepi Tanginoa, 16. Scott Bolton, 17. James Tamou, 18. Lachlan Coote.
Newcastle Knights 1 Kurt Gidley, 2 James McManus, 3 Dane Gagai, 4 Joey Leilua, 5 Akuila Uate, 6 Jarrod Mullen, 7 Tyrone Roberts, 8 Kade Snowden, 9 Adam Clydsdale, 10 Korbin Sims, 11 Beau Scott, 12 Robbie Rochow, 13 Jeremy Smith. Interchange: 14 Tyler Randell, 15 Chris Houston, 16 David Fa’alogo, 17 Jack Stockwell, 18 Sione Mata’utia.
Paul Green has put faith in his squad by keeping the same side thrashed by the Roosters in the opening round of the premiership. Lachlan Coote has been added to the seventeen man squad. The man under pressure is Justin O’Neill, who didn’t handle the conditions well as he struggled under the high ball. Don’t be surprised if Coote is a late inclusion for O’Neill.
The main concern coming out of last week’s loss was their lack of attack. We’ll find out a little more this week as to whether it was the fact North Queensland were intimidated by the Roosters or if it’s a case that JT is a little off his game and the options outside him are limited. They have no injury worries going into this round.
Newcastle didn’t show any adverse signs from the post-Bennett era with victory over the New Zealand Warriors last weekend. Again it’s hard to read much into this effort as recent history suggests the Warriors extended their opening round loss streak to six straight.
This week they welcome back Kurt Gidley from a hamstring injury. Sione Mata’utia returns to the bench. Mata’utia won’t be too far away from a return to the starting side. The player he could replace is Akuila Uate who will be under pressure to retain his spot on the wing. On the injured list Carlos Tuimavave should be available next week, Jaelen Feeney and Pat Mata’utia not so lucky facing an indefinite period on the sideline.
You would expect the Cowboys to return to the winners list and find the attacking formula to post plenty of points. Matt Scott went missing at stages last week and I think he’ll fire up this week. Newcastle’s best chance of winning is to study very closely the successful formula that saw the Sydney Roosters run out winners last weekend. Apply the pressure, defend well and contain Thurston. Easier said than done.
Prediction Cowboys to bounce back and the Knights to be competitive but struggle in the humidity. Cowboys by 10.