Joshua Knox previews the Sunday afternoon clash between the Warriors and the Cowboys at the Central Coast.Embed from Getty Images
Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Date: 2nd May, Time: 4pm
15.Leeson Ah Mau
IN: Adam Pompey, David Fusitu’a, Sean O’Sullivan, Taniela Otukolo, Tohu Harris
OUT: Edward Kosi, Marcelo Montoya
IN: Jake Clifford,Jason Taumalolo, Javid Bowen, Peter Hola, Tom Gilbert
OUT: Esan Marsters, Mitchell Dunn
Referee: Chris Butler
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WarriorsEmbed from Getty Images
The Warriors enter this round eight clash off the back of a tough 42-20 loss on ANZAC Day to the Melbourne Storm. They were completely outplayed and only managed to bring the scoreline closer towards the end of the game. What will excite the Warriors fans is the emergence of some great young talent over the last few weeks.
One of the game’s top young talents, Reece Walsh, made his NRL debut at fullback in the last start, loss forcing incumbent and captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck out of his favoured #1 jersey. The 18-year-old impressed with a number of nice touches, finishing with two try assists and five tackle busts. Another great find has been Josh Curran who has burst onto the scene over the last few games and looks a very promising young back rower. The 21-year-old complied a try assist and three tackle breaks in his last outing; he has been cleared by the judiciary to to take the field on Sunday after being out on a report following a contentious sin-binning for a high tackle.
CowboysEmbed from Getty Images
After a shaky start to the season, the Cowboys have now won three games on the trot following a great come-from-behind win over the Canberra Raiders in Townsville last time out. North Queensland scored 20 unanswered points to storm home 26-24 victors.
Jason Taumalolo has been named to return, adding a much-needed boost through the middle third for the Cowboys. Valentine Holmes has gone to another level since returning to his favoured fullback position, grabbing a couple of try assists to go with a whopping 16 tackle breaks over the club’s winning streak. More impressive has been his goal kicking, with his boot proving the difference last weekend and nailing 15 of his last 16 attempts overall.
The Warriors missed their chance to re-enter the top eight with a win last the weekend and now can’t afford to lose this weekend. A loss will see them slide below their opposition and potentially as low as 13th by weekend’s end. Fans will get another look at excitement machine Walsh this weekend, although will he have the six on his back and be playing in the front-line defence?
The Cowboys all of a sudden are one of the form teams in the competition despite wins over some minimal and out-of-form opposition. A win over the Warriors could see them finish the weekend in seventh position depending on other results. The club have found a gem in Ben Condon who has now scored a try in all of the last three victories and is proving a potent force in attack.
This clash will more than likely go down to wire given what is at stake and it will be a battle at the beginning to see who wins the field position game. If it’s a dry track on Sunday, expect to see points, and a lot of them.
The Warriors ran away with the points last season when the sides met, taking a 37-26 win over the Cowboys in round five. The Cowboys will be glad that Peta Hiku’s name isn’t on the team sheet after the centre crashed over for three tries in the 2020 clash.
In what shapes as an important fixture for both clubs, I expect the Warriors spine to combine nicely and outscore the Cowboys in a close one.
Warriors by four.