Andrew Pelechaty previews the second Super Saturday game, with the Cowboys hosting the Raiders. This is what we have to look forward to.
North Queensland Cowboys
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Cowboys: first losing coach Paul Green, and then suffering another ‘honourable’ loss – this time to Manly (24-12). With Manly leading 12-0 early, a crucial double-play kept the Cowboys in the game: first holding up Jack Gosiewski, and then scoring through Kyle Feldt, turning a possible 18-0 hole into a more manageable 12-6 deficit going into halftime. The Cowboys blew a few try-scoring chances in the second half, before tries to Daly Cherry-Evans and Cade Cust gave Manly a 24-6 lead. A try to Francis Molo with 12 minutes left gave the Cowboys some hope, but it was too late.
One week after their epic victory against the Sydney Roosters, the Raiders scored an equally big win (in significance, if not by margin) over Souths in Canberra, winning 18-12. Canberra shot out to a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes, with tries to Nick Cotric and Jarrod Croker (with an incredible pick up in wet conditions), before Souths went bang-bang to lead 12-10 at halftime. Canberra were unlucky not to lead at the break, when an Elliott Whitehead try was pulled up due to an obstruction ruling. It’s the second Bruce game in a row that Whitehead’s had a try disallowed, after his crucial try against Melbourne was denied due to a knock-on. A penalty goal to Croker levelled the scores at 12-12 before Semi Valemei scored his first NRL try to seal the win. Pleasingly, Canberra kept Souths scoreless for nearly 60 minutes, including all of the second half.
It wasn’t all good news though, with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad set to miss two weeks with a broken finger, though they have a massive boost with John Bateman returning for the first time in 2020 (as well as new recruit Corey Harawira-Naera on the bench). Will Bateman be rusty after missing so much footy? Or will his will to win drive Canberra home?
North Queensland Cowboys
1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Connelly Lemuelu 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Daejarn Asi 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh Mcguire 9. Reece Robson 10. Jordan McLean 11. Shane Wright 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Mitchell Dunn 15. Tom Gilbert 16. Gavin Cooper 17. Francis Molo 18. John Asiata 19. Ben Hampton 20. Esan Marsters 21. Jake Granville.
1. Jordan Rapana 2. Semi Valemi 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Curtis Scott 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Siliva Havili 10. Dunamis Lui 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Hudson Young 14. Tom Starling 15. Joseph Tapine 16. Ryan Sutton 17. Corey Harawira-Naera 18. Sam Williams 19. Harley Smith-Shields 20. Kai O’Donnell 21. Matt Frawley.
The head-to-head between these clubs is surprisingly close, with Canberra leading 20-19. They split their games last year: Canberra enjoyed a rare win in Townsville, beating the Cowboys 30-12, before the Cowboys went to Canberra and won 22-16, taking advantage of a Raiders side fatigued by a huge fortnight against the Roosters and Souths. This is their first meeting at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Kyle Feldt vs Nick Cotric
With 10 tries and 17 goals from 11 games, Feldt has been one of the Cowboys’ best. His athletic take of Jake Clifford’s cross-field kick kept them in the contest against Manly. If the Cowboys are to pull off an upset, Feldt will need to be among the tryscorers as well as be accurate with the boot.
The Raiders will bid farewell to Nick Cotric at the end of the season, as he goes to the Bulldogs. Cotric established himself in Canberra’s NYC team, so Raiders fans will be sad to see another local boy go.
Despite this, Cotric scored the first try against Souths, regathering his own Falcon to score in the corner, as Canberra got off to a fast start. The Raiders will be looking to Cotric for another fast start in Townsville.
Two weeks again, everyone was writing Canberra off after they lost to Melbourne and lost Josh Hodgson and Bailey Simonsson for the year. They’ve since beaten last year’s grand finalists (Sydney Roosters) and prelim finalists (Souths) to sit just outside the top four.
The Cowboys were competitive against Penrith and Manly, but lacked the class to finish off those games. Expect them to compete against the Raiders (especially at home), but – assuming they’re switched on – the boys from the ACT should do enough to win.
Canberra by 10.
Date: Saturday, August 1.