Cormac Pearson previews this weeks crucial clash between the struggling Bulldogs and the hopeful Cowboys at ANZ Stadium on Friday Night.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
In front of a 30,000 strong Good Friday crowd, the Bulldogs played admirably in a tight game against the Rabbitohs. The Bulldogs were right in the game and if it weren’t for a few missed opportunities they may have come out with a win. They will be looking to tighten up their defence and error count after missing forty-five tackles and making 12 errors.
North Queensland Cowboys
A very gritty game led the Cowboys to their second win of the season against the Warriors in New Zealand. Josh McGuire and Michael Morgan stepped up as the they held their own on their line many times and doing just enough to win. A much needed win for the side who have been out of form in recent games.
Rhyse Martin comes into the starting side for Adam Elliot who moves to the bench.
Canterbury Bulldogs squad: 1. Nick Meaney 2. Jayden Okunbor 3. Kerrod Holland 4. Will Hopoate 5. Reimis Smith 6. Jack Cogger 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Ofahiki Ogden 11. Josh Jackson 12. Corey Harawira-Naera 13. Rhyse Martin 14. Michael Lichaa 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Adam Elliott 17. Chris Smith 19. Christian Crichton 20. Marcelo Montoya 21. Fa’amanu Brown 22. Renouf To’omaga
North Queensland Cowboys
The Cowboys have named an unchanged side, but star lock Jason Taumalolo is named on the extended bench and is a small chance of returning this Friday.
North Queensland Cowboys 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. Matt 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. Tom Opacic 20. Jason Taumalolo 21. Mitchell Dunn
HEAD TO HEAD
Two sides desperate for a win will prove an entertaining game of Friday night footy, as the bookies have got the two them dead even. The Bulldogs are coming off some strong performances, even though they are sitting last on one win they have improved a lot from last year. Good performances from young half Lachlan Lewis, Will Hopoate and Aiden Tolman have helped the team find their feet. They lost narrowly to top of the table Storm and to the Rabbitohs and Coach Dean Pay has done well to turn the team around.
The Cowboys on the other hand have a great team on paper but have struggled to find their feet so far. A few key injuries to players like Jason Taumalolo, Kyle Feldt and Nene Macdonald hasn’t helped their cause. The win against the Warriors last weekend could be the key to jolt their season into gear, with Morgan and McGuire putting on big performances. Last year, the Bulldogs beat the Cowboys fairly convincingly, 27-10 in Townsville but before that the Cowboys had won the previous five outings.
The two young pivots are this weeks key battle in Jack Cogger and Jake Clifford. Both players have been coming along and as their confidence grows will have more and more impact in the NRL. Former Knight Jack Cogger is continuing to improve and with his coaches blessing his confidence will grow. Cogger had a solid performance last week in a game that lacked any real attacking opportunity. He ran the ball eight times, which is clearly something Pay has told him to do as well as getting plenty of ball with 54 touches. This is key for Cogger, getting the ball in his hands as much as possible. He may need to get a bit more involved in defence after only making eleven tackles, but if he can get involved early he could really affect the outcome of this game.
Clifford on the other hand is continuing to improve as he had one of his better attacking games of the season against the Warriors. He had a try assist, line-break, three tackle busts and made 20 tackles. If you have been following this kid you would know his potential as he has risen through the schoolboy level. He has a very strong kicking game and as he gets more ball his attack prowess will come to fruition. He was found out in defence against one of the games best in Tuivasa-Sheck, but he will look to learn and have a strong defensive game on Friday night. Clifford needs to get his hands on the ball more and if he does he could prove a headache for the Bulldogs defence.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday, 26th of April, 2019
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 6:00pm AEST
Referees: Chris Sutton, Phil Henderson
WHO WILL WIN?
These two sides will have a real go this weekend, but Morgan’s game control and the Cowboys forwards will lead the Cowboys to a tough win.
Cowboys by 10