Todd Warren previews the Cowboys vs Sharks clash, as both sides deal with some big team changes.
North Queensland Cowboys
After falling to the Broncos in the season opener, the Cowboys beat the Bulldogs in round two and thumped the Titans 36-6 last week.
Cronulla are still winless this season after last week’s loss to the Tigers. They had a close game against the Storm in the last week before the season was suspended, but lost to South Sydney in their season opener. They sit in the bottom four with the Dragons, Bulldogs and Titans.
North Queensland Cowboys
A big blow with Jason Taumalolo ruled out with bone bruising around his knee. Josh McGuire moves to lock, Francis Molo starts at prop and Tom Gilbert joins the bench. Gavin Cooper is also on the bench, so could potentially move to the starting side.
1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Esan Marsters 5. Ben Hampton 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Jake Clifford 8. Francis Molo 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean (c) 11. Mitchell Dunn 12. Coen Hess 13. Josh McGuire 14. Reece Robson 15. John Asiata 16. Tom Gilbert 17. Gavin Cooper.
The Sharks also deal with some changes as Chad Townsend has been ruled out with a hamstring injury after coming off early against the Tigers. Matt Moylan moves to five eighth, and Connor Tracey and Siosifa Talakai are named on the bench. Billy Magoulias was shifted into the 17 last week, so may do so again. Still no sign of Andrew Fifita.
1. William Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Toby Rudolph 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham (c) 13. Jack Williams 14. Connor Tracey 15. Braden Hamlin-Uele 16. Siosifa Talakai 17. Scott Sorensen.
The Sharks have won the last three games against the Cowboys and seven of their last 10. Josh Dugan has scored in his last four games against the Cowboys.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Coen Hess vs Wade Graham
Hess burst onto the scene in the 2016 finals series and had his breakout season in 2017. He was a bit flat in the 2019 season but has started 2020 strong. He’ll be looking to regain his spot in the Queensland Origin side but he’ll be lining up against one of the best back rowers in the game this week.
Wade Graham has been dealing with some injuries in the last few seasons that have limited his game time, but when he’s on the field there aren’t many players I’d rather have on my team. The Sharks were well in the game against the Tigers last week and it was largely due to the leadership and impact from their captain. The scores were locked at 16-all when David Nofoaluma cut through some atrocious defence from Chad Townsend and Josh Dugan, which got them a very dirty look from Graham after he’d worked so hard to keep them in the game.
Jason Taumalolo is a huge out for the Cowboys, and with all the rep experience from the Sharks I think they’ll be too strong.
Sharks by six.
Date: Saturday June 6.
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium.