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MATCH PREVIEW | North Queensland Cowboys vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

James Cusack previews Saturday night’s match between the Cowboys and the Rabbitohs at 1300SMILES Stadium.

TEAM FORM GUIDE

North Queensland Cowboys

The home side sits in 10th after a season plagued by injuries and inconsistency. Last week’s win in Gosford against the high-flying Roosters will boost their hopes of making the finals and in this week’s game against the second placed Rabbitohs.

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South Sydney Rabbitohs

The Rabbitohs got a much-needed win last week against the Sea Eagles (21-20). Before last week’s victory the once 10 wins 1 loss Rabbitohs had lost four on the trot and were looking at the prospect of sliding out of the top four. Wayne Bennett will like his chances in Townsville with the likes of Adam Reynolds and Damien Cook playing well there in the past.

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SQUAD NEWS

North Queensland Cowboys

Cowboys captain Michael Morgan is named in the extended reserves following two head knocks. He remains an outside chance to return this week, though team doctors will most likely rest him for another week.

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Murray Taulagi comes onto the wing for his NRL debut as coach Paul Green making only one forced change, with Javid Bowen shifting from wing to centre to replace Jordan Kahu (eye socket).

North Queensland Cowboys squad: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Javid Bowen 4. Tom Opacic 5. Murray Taulagi 6. John Asiata 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh McGuire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Shane Wright 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Coen Hess 15. Matt Scott 16. Scott Bolton 17. Francis Molo 18. Michael Morgan 19. Reuben Cotter 20. Corey Jensen 21. Daniel Russell.

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Queensland representative Ethan Lowe returns after being rested last week, and takes his place in to the back row with Dean Britt moving to prop to fill the void left by the suspended Liam Knight.

Mark Nicholls is added to the bench while youngster Bayley Sironen is omitted. Unfortunately for the Bunnies there is still no Sam Burgess after he suffered a setback in his recovery from shoulder surgery as reported by the media this week.

South Sydney Rabbitohs squad: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. Dane Gagai 3. James Roberts 4. Braidon Burns 5. Campbell Graham 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Dean Britt 11. John Sutton 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Cameron Murray 14. Tom Amone 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Jaydn Su’A 17. Kyle Turner 18. Kurt Dillon 19. Connor Tracey 20. Bayley Sironen 21. Corey Allan.

HEAD TO HEAD

Since 1998 the Cowboys and Rabbitohs have played each other 33 times, with the men north of the border holding a slender 17 to 15 lead with 1 draw. The Rabbitohs have won their last two games against the Cowboys, including last year’s miraculous 21-20 win in round 16 in Townsville.

KEY BATTLE

Jason Taumalolo will go head-to-head with Cameron Murray in what is going to be a very exciting contest. Taumalolo is a freak, the most damaging ball runner in the game is averaging 212 run metres per game and is tackling at a staggering 93 per cent. His battle against the smaller but silky Murray will play a massive part in deciding who takes home the chocolates.

On the other hand, Murray has been a revelation for the men from Redfern, filling the void left by Angus Crichton exceptionally well. At 21, Murray has been a standout for the Bunnies this year, which saw him represent NSW in all three Origin games this year. Scoring six tries and averaging 1.3 offloads, Murray is always dangerous when he has the ball in his hand. The Cowboys better hope they clean up the middle of the field as Murray and Cook will be eyeing any chances they can get to exploit their tired forwards.

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THE IMPORTANT DETAILS

Date: Saturday 20 July, 2019
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium
Kick-off: 7.35pm
Referee: Chris Sutton and Matt Noyen

WHO WILL WIN?

With the Rabbitohs still missing some key players, and the Cowboys coming off a great road win against the premiership favourites, I would suggest tipsters to go for the home side.

North Queensland by eight.

Student journalist, 19, born and raised in NSW, wanting to pursue a career in sports journalism.



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