MATCH PREVIEW | New Zealand Warriors vs North Queensland Cowboys

After both sides almost scored upsets last week, the New Zealand Warriors host the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night, with both sides desperate to climb the ladder.

Team Form Guide

New Zealand Warriors

With the absence of veteran half Blake Green, the Warriors had a spirited showing against the Rabbitohs but ultimately did not perform for the full 80.

The right edge defence was once again a massive weakness and will be under constant attack by the Cowboys as they attempt to get their second win for the season.

North Queensland Cowboys

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The Cowboys’ start to 2019 has left a lot to be desired, but they put on a brave display against the undefeated Melbourne Storm and gave their fans hope the season can turn around.

The effort has been there and if they can continue to pressure the opposition that will lead to more wins.

Squad News

New Zealand Warriors

Blake Green has been named to return after injuring himself during warmup before last week’s game in the only change to last week’s gameday squad.

Gerard Beale is named in the reserves in case Blake cannot pass the fitness tests.

New Zealand Warriors 21-Man Squad: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2. David Fusitu’a, 3. Peta Hiku, 4. Solomone Kata, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 7. Blake Green, 8. Agnatius Paasi, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Leeson Ah Mau, 11. Adam Blair, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Lachlan Burr, 14. Jazz Tevaga, 15. Sam Lisone, 16. Bunty Afoa, 17. Isaiah Papali’i, 18. Nathaniel Roache, 20. Leivaha Pulu, 21. Gerard Beale, 22. Patrick Herbert

North Queensland Cowboys

The Cowboys have two changes this week as Scott Bolton returns from suspension and replaces Corey Jensen on the bench; Justin O’Neill finds himself on the wing replacing Nene MacDonald after his severe ankle injury last week.

North Queensland Cowboys 21-Man Squad: 1. Te Maire Martin, 2. Justin O’Neill, 3. Jordan Kahu, 4. Enari Tuala, 5. Ben Hampton, 6. Jake Clifford, 7. Michael Morgan, 8. Matthew Scott, 9. Jake Granville, 10. Jordan McLean, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Josh McGuire, 13. John Asiata, 14. Kurt Baptiste, 15. Coen Hess, 16. Scott Bolton, 17. Francis Molo, 18. Corey Jensen, 19. Javid Bowen, 20. Shane Wright, 21. Mitchell Dunn

Head to Head

Played: 35, Cowboys 18, Warriors 17

Latest Results: New Zealand Warriors 23-16, Round 15 2018

Key Battle

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Providing he survives the fitness test my key battle is between Blake Green and Michael Morgan.

Green’s absence last week highlighted how much the Warriors missed his league IQ and his return will ease the pressure off rookie half Chanel Harris-Tavita and give the Warriors some much-needed structure.

Morgan has a lot of pressure on his shoulders to get the Cowboys out of their current slump; his kicks will need to be pinpoint to reduce the impact the Warriors back three will have running it out of their half.

Both sides need strong performances from their experienced playmakers, and whichever player gains the upper hand makes the road to victory that much easier for their team.

The Important Details

Date: Saturday, April 20

Venue: Mount Smart Stadium

Kick-Off: 5:30 PM (7:30 PM NZ time)

Who Will Win?

Both sides will arrive at Mount Smart confident after last week, and I’m expecting an exciting encounter.

The Warriors need their forward pack to continue their round five form and give them the upper hand up front to allow their explosive backline to stretch their legs.

The Cowboys have lost four matches in a row and will be desperate to leave Auckland breaking that streak.

Jake Granville needs to be sniping out of dummy half, taking advantage of the Warriors’ weak ruck defence.

They will need to direct their play down the Warriors’ right edge – which has leaked plenty of points this season – if they are to walk away with the win.

I see the Warriors walking away with the two points here; Blake’s return should give the Warriors that experience that was sorely missed last week and their second phase football will be too much for the Cowboys to overcome.

Warriors by 12

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