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2021 NRL Round 11 Preview, Cowboys Vs Knights

Andrew Pelechaty previews the opening game of round 11. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville, Date: Thursday May 20, Time: 7:50pm

Cowboys Team

  1. Valentine Holmes
  2. Kyle Feldt
  3. Javid Bowen
  4. Connelly Lemuelu
  5. Murray Taulagi
  6. Scott Drinkwater
  7. Jake Clifford
  8. Tom Gilbert
  9. Reece Robson
  10. Jordan McLean
  11. Shane Wright
  12. Mitchell Dunn
  13. Jason Taumalolo
  14. Jake Granville
  15. Lachlan Burr
  16. Francis Molo
  17. Heilum Luki
  18. Corey Jensen
  19. Daejarn Asi
  20. Ben Condon
  21. Kane Bradley

Team Changes

IN: Corey Jensen
Daejarn Asi
Heilum Luki
Kane Bradley


OUT: Coen Hess

Knights Team

  1. Tex Hoy
  2. Starford To’a
  3. Enari Tuala
  4. Bradman Best
  5. Brayden Musgrove
  6. Kurt Mann
  7. Phoenix Crossland
  8. David Klemmer
  9. Jayden Brailey
  10. Daniel Saifiti
  11. Tyson Frizell
  12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon
  13. Mitchell Barnett
  14. Connor Watson
  15. Jacob Saifiti
  16. Sauaso Sue
  17. Brodie Jones
  18. Simi Sasagi
  19. Josh King
  20. Gehamat Shibasaki
  21. Blake Green

Team Changes

IN: Blake Green
Brayden Musgrove
Gehamat Shibasaki
Simi Sasagi


OUT:
Hymel Hunt

Referee: Ashley Klein

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Cowboys

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While they lost to the Sydney Roosters in Magic Round, North Queensland have been the form teams of the past few weeks. After an 0-4 start, they’ve won four from their last six and are equal eighth on wins (but sit 12th with a -104 differential). Since round five, they’ve beaten the Wests Tigers, Canterbury-Bankstown, Canberra (coming from 24-6 down at halftime), and Brisbane. They only trailed the Roosters 18-16 with 30 minutes left before the Easts boys ran away with two late tries.

Knights

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Perhaps indicative of Newcastle’s “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” form, they inexplicably followed up their huge comeback win over Canberra with a limp Magic Round loss to the equally inconsistent Wests Tigers. The Tigers took advantage of the absent Kalyn Ponga (groin injury), racing to a 24-4 half-time lead before easing to a 36-18 win. After making the finals last year, the Knights are in equal eighth on wins, but sit 11th with a -77 differential. Even worse news is they’ll be without Ponga for their Townsville trip, with Tex Hoy at fullback again.

PREVIEW

While the Cowboys and Knights both have four wins and six losses, the vibes are completely different: the Cowboys are surging after a poor start, while the Knights have won just two games since round three, including two losses to the Tigers, and big losses against the Gold Coast, Penrith (though they stuck with the almost invincible Panthers for most of the game), and the Sydney Roosters.

Though the Cowboys haven’t made their new QCB Stadium a fortress yet, they’re 3-2 at home so far, and most non-Queensland teams dread the trip up north. With Ponga still out, it could be a long night for the Novocastrians.

KEY STAT

The Knights have a slight advantage in the head-to-head: 20-18 since 1998. The Cowboys and Knights split last year’s meetings: the Cowboys won 32-20 in round seven in Townsville (with nine tries in total), while the Knights ground out a gritty 12-0 win in round 15 in Newcastle.

PREDICTION

On form alone, the Cowboys are favourites, with four wins from their last six, including three in Townsville. With still no Ponga for the Knights, the Cowboys should edge closer to the top eight.

Cowboys by six. 

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