Cormac Pearson previews Friday night footy as the Cowboys look to get back in the winning column against a struggling West Tigers outfit in Townsville.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
North Queensland Cowboys
The Cowboys are leading the competition in injuries but are still managing to play some good football, narrowly losing to Manly at home last week. The side were looking for their fifth straight win but even with a mammoth game from Jason Taumalolo running for 311 metres, the northerners just couldn’t manage to strike the final blow.
The Tigers have been on a wave of ups and down in 2019 and unfortunately last week they hit a slump, losing to the Raiders at Bankwest, 28-0. The Tigers are in a form slump at the moment but being held to zip may be the kick they need to roar back into form.
North Queensland Cowboys
The Cowboys will again be forced into making changes as Jordan McLean and young gun Mitch Dunn picked up injuries against Manly. This brings the dangerous Javid Bowen into the side on the wing and Corey Jensen onto the bench. Scott Bolton will move to starting prop while Kurt Baptiste will replace young gun Rueben Cotter in the 14 spot. Michael Morgan will again Captain from the back this Friday night starting at Fullback.
North Queensland Cowboys squad: 1. Michael Morgan (C) 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Enari Tuala 4. Tom Opacic 5. Javid Bowen 6. John Asiata 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh McGuire 9. Jake Granville 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Shane Wright 16. Corey Jensen 17. Francis Molo 18. Peter Hola 19. Jordan Kahu 20. Dan Russell 21. Emry Pere
Mahe Fonua is out with injury as Robert Jennings will replace him on the wing while Chris Lawrence will again start on the bench after his inspiring comeback from a facial injury. Corey Thompson remains at fullback with Captain Moses Mbye leading the team from the centres. Esan Marsters will line up in the centres for his 50th NRL appearance this weekend.
Wests Tigers squad: 1. Corey Thompson 2. Robert Jennings 3. Moses Mbye (C) 4. Esan Marsters 5. David Nofoaluma 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Ben Matulino 9. Robbie Farah 10. Alex Twal 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Michael Chee-Kam 13. Matt Eisenhuth 14. Jacob Liddle 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Josh Aloiai 17. Chris Lawrence 18. Paul Momirovski 19. Chris McQueen 20. Elijah Taylor 21. Luke Garner
HEAD TO HEAD
If you’re a Tiger’s fan, you love to play the Cowboys, if you’re a Cowboy, well maybe not so much. The history of these clubs brings a tale that includes a Benji Marshall flick and a shadow that still lingers over North Queenslander’s heads. The Tigers have proven to be a bogey side for North Queensland since the 2005 Grand Final and it is still very much alive winning three of their last four, including last years 20-12 win at Leichhardt Oval. With both sides even on the table a top eight spot is on the line as wins become more and more crucial as we cross into the second half of the year.
The Tigers success sits on the performance of the team, but it lies on the performance of Robbie Farah. When the Tigers win it is usually due to a strong performance from the 294 game veteran. He leads through voice and action and when his forwards are on the front foot he still shows he has a creative running game. So far this year, Farah has four tries, six try assists, six line-break assists and an astonishing 93.5 per cent tackle rate.
His partnership with Benji Marshall has been scintillating at times but relies on a solid forward platform that has been missing in recent weeks. Farah is coming off of a solid performance in a poor side last week against Canberra making 40 tackles with a good running and kicking game. The key to stopping Farah is not to underestimate his kicking game, slow the play down and to not give him room.
On the other hand you have the electric Jake Granville who since his name has been in origin discussion has tried to lift back to 2015 form. Granville is well-known for his dangerous running game from dummy-half and has lifted his tackle rate in recent times. He has been dangerous close to the line this year was well deserved to be in the race for Queensland’s origin discussion.
So far this year Granville has a try, four try assists and is averaging just under 50 metres a game with the ball in hand. He thrives off the front foot but Taumalolo will be taking on extra load this week with both starting props Matt Scott and Jordan McLean. The key to stopping Granville is to force him into doing a lot of work, trying and contain Taumalolo and watching him close to the line with his boot and his running game.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday June 14, 2019
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville
Kick-off: 7:50pm AEST
Referee: Ben Cummins and Dave Munro
WHO WILL WIN?
This prediction is going based on form and at this point in time it is the Cowboys who are coming into the game with the hottest heels. The West Tigers will be looking to hit back after a sore loss last week but a win in Townsville may just be out of reach. Cowboys by 8.