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2021 NRL Round Six Preview, Cowboys Vs Bulldogs

Matt Attard previews North Queensland playing Canterbury-Bankstown on a rare Sunday afternoon game in Townsville This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville, Date: Sunday April 18, Time: 4:05pm

Cowboys Team

1. Valentine Holmes
2. Kyle Feldt
3. Justin O’Neill
4. Connelly Lemuelu
5. Murray Taulagi
6. Scott Drinkwater
7. Ben Hampton
8. Coen Hess
9. Reece Robson
10. Jordan McLean
11. Shane Wright
12. Ben Condon
13. Jason Taumalolo
14. Jake Granville
15. Lachlan Burr
16. Francis Molo
17. Corey Jensen
18. Esan Marsters
19. Mitchell Dunn
20. Peta Hola
21. Jake Clifford

Team Changes

IN: Esan Marsters, Jason Taumololo, Justin O’Neill, Mitchell Dunn, Peter Hola
OUT: Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Reuben Cotter

Bulldogs Team

  1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
  2. Nick Cotric
  3. Will Hopoate
  4. Corey Allan
  5. Tuipulotu Katoa
  6. Jake Averillo
  7. Kyle Flanagan
  8. Dylan Napa
  9. Sione Katoa
  10. Jack Hetherington
  11. Adam Elliott
  12. Corey Waddell
  13. Luke Thompson
  14. Jackson Topine
  15. Renouf Atoni
  16. Chris Smith
  17. Ofahiki Ogden
  18. Brandon Wakeham
  19. Dean Britt
  20. Joe Stimson
  21. Matt Doorey

Team Changes

IN: Chris Smith, Dean Britt, Joe Stimson, Matt Doorey
OUT: Josh Jackson

Referee: Henry Perenara

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Cowboys

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What can be said for Todd Payten? He is clearly trying hard while his players are lacking in most facets of the game. Josh McGuire was happy to walk this week and there are several others on the chopping block if they don’t perform.

Val Holmes is under-performing badly but there are signs he’s ready to explode. Reuben Cotter has been excellent, notching up more than 50 tackles and 150 metres against the Wests Tigers last weekend. He will miss the match, however, as will promising outside back and try-scoring whiz Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

Bulldogs

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At least they avoided four straight scoreless defeats. Although their defence was horrendous against Melbourne (as it has been most games), there are signs of life in patches. They will be missing Josh Jackson but Luke Thompson’s return last week was immense.

Trent Barrett will want to see at least a 60 minute game from his men. They’ve barely been playing for 40 and are the most patchy team when it comes to their determination and hunger in defence. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak at fullback and Corey Allen at centre were instrumental in a number of attacking raids while five-eighth Jake Averillo came into his own against the Storm.

PREVIEW

It’s the battle of the bottom feeders. Both sides are struggling dearly, unable to stem the flow of points so far this season. The attack hasn’t fared much better for either side, but at least the Cowboys have piled on a few points this year.

They gave it to the Tigers – who were absolutely abysmal – away from home last weekend. They have players in attack who can create, but as the Bulldogs showed against Melbourne, so do they. Points have been hard to come by for the blue and whites but this could be the match that gives them a shot of confidence.

KEY STAT

Offloads. Last week against Melbourne, the Bulldogs made 14 of them, by far the most this season for a side lacking any punch in attack. Prior to that they had averaged just five per match. It shows the effectiveness of a good hand-off and it’s a small area that could provide a big difference in a very poor attacking team.

Cotter’s late call up was a masterstroke for the Cowboys. He ran for 156 metres and made 52 tackles. He is missing this week but they welcome back Jason Taumalolo, a man who averaged 208 metres per game in 2020.

PREDICTION

Whose defence will hold? That’s what it will come down to. Both sides leak points like a sieve. But the weather will also be a big factor. A steaming hot Townsville afternoon could turn the odds in the Cowboys’ favour, but I’m tipping the Bulldogs to continue their improvement and score their first win of the season.

Bulldogs by 12. 

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