Matt Attard previews the 2020 round two match up between the Bulldogs and the Cowboys. This is what we have to look forward to.
In front of what will now be an empty stadium, these two teams are vying for their first points in 2020; given the uncertainty of the season, thanks to the world-wide Coronavirus pandemic, both will be playing as if it’s their last game for the year.
The Bulldogs were unlucky against all odds in round one, impressing with their grit and defence while displaying arguably the worst attacking football of the past few seasons. No matter what they did, they didn’t look like scoring.
I’m not convinced the Bulldogs have enough points in them to trouble the Cowboys, but it will be interesting to see how their defence fares against the likes of Valentine Holmes, Scott Drinkwater, Jason Taumalolo, and Esan Marsters.
North Queensland Cowboys
The Cowboys looked likely throughout the game against the Broncos, scoring 21 points and buoyed by the returning Holmes. It really is a case of defence versus attack, with Paul Green’s men looking to stiffen their defence while Dean Pay will want far more from his team with ball in hand.
1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Nick Meaney 3. Reimis Smith 4. Will Hopoate 5. Christian Crichton 6. Brandon Wakeham 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Joe Stimson 13. Adam Elliott 14. Dean Britt 15. Renouf To’omaga 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17. Jake Averillo 19. Ofahiki Ogden 20. Morgan Harper 21. Sione Katoa 22. Jack Cogger.
North Queensland Cowboys
1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Esan Marsters 5. Ben Hampton 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Michael Morgan 8. Josh Mcguire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Reece Robson 15. John Asiata 16. Mitchell Dunn 17. Francis Molo 18. Corey Jensen 19. Shane Wright 20. Tom Opacic 21. Jake Clifford.
The points. It’s a carbon copy of much of the Bulldogs’ season in 2019. They need to score tries and they need to start this week.
The Cowboys created many opportunities against the Broncos and have attacking weapons all over the park. In fact, they ran for 1885 metres in round one, compared to just 1346 made by the Bulldogs.
Defensively the Bulldogs were as impressive as any team in round one, but they’ll have their work cut out for them containing the likes of Jason Taumalolo (183 metres in round one), Marsters (221 metres) and Holmes (181 metres).
BATTLE TO WATCH
Brandon Wakeham v Scott Drinkwater
One is a dynamic Fijian live wire and the other was arguably the best player in the Perth Nines. Both teams enter the match with five-eighths itching to make their mark. Make no mistake, both could turn the game on its head.
In round one, Wakeham was rarely seen with the ball but when he was he was impressive. He forced a goal line drop out and seemed the most likely to create points – something the Bulldogs are so desperate for.
For Wakeham to get the better of his opposition in this clash he has to kick it up another notch and demand the ball more than he did in round one.
Drinkwater was far more active. While Lachlan Lewis took control for the Dogs, Drinkwater was happy to bark orders for the Cowboys and take a bit more control away from his senior halfback. He created two tries and two line breaks, busted the line himself and ran for more than 100 metres.
No crowd, no atmosphere, hopefully no one with Coronavirus, and if the Bulldogs keep up their attacking woes there’ll be no tries for the home team. I think the strike power presented by the visitors will be too much for the Bulldogs to overcome. Cowboys by eight.
Date: Thursday March 19.
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney.