This could end up being the match of the round when the North Queensland Cowboys travel to western Sydney to face Penrith Panthers at Pepper Stadium on Saturday night.
LAST TIME OUT
We saw the Panthers finish with a two-point win over the Eels (Previous victor over the Cowboys) with a last second try that broke the hearts of the Pirtek crowd. The Cowboys had a close match against the Dragons and were lucky to squeak by with a 36- point win.
This week we will see a very resilient Panthers hosting one of the true favourites and reigning Premiers. The Panthers have only two wins to show for being one of the most competitive teams in the league and will not be treated as anything but a very strong opponent by the Cowboys. The Cowboys at home have been unbeaten and their defence has kept two sides pointless, but on the road, both to Parramatta and the Broncos they have lost.
When you look at the Cowboys, they have never been a team that struggles to score points and for many years the victories came from outscoring the other teams attack (thanks Captain Obvious, but you know what I mean). They are now the best defence after 5 rounds and are letting in only 11 points per game. They are facing a team that is letting in 20, and the numbers are reversed in attack with the Cowboys averaging 26+ against 19 for the Panthers.
The return of Moylan was a boost to the Panthers, but whilst the Cowboys changed one player in 7 weeks, the boys from the base of the mountain are getting their best players on the field and whilst they have named 2 extra players may well field an unchanged side this week. We have seen that stability is key and the Panthers will hope that this will help them in this match.
Going for the tactical in this game.
The second rowers for both sides are all putting in 80 minutes and making the yards. Ethan Lowe and Gavin Cooper are solid and active contributors for the Cowboys, almost ignored due to the star power around them and yet they have been both key players in the teams ongoing success.
Yeo and Cartwright have been similar for the Panthers. In a game in which the defensive efforts will be the determining factor, the efforts that these four put in may well have a major impact on the final score-line.
The Cowboys last year became a team that traveled well and won many of their road games. After two tight losses, the team will be wanting to open their away record with a win. Penrith has been competitive ad it would not surprise many if they stole the points on Saturday night, but for min this is a game for the Cowboys.
North Queensland Cowboys by 16.