Jem Nash previews this Saturday night showdown as the Knights hope to get their season back on track against the red hot Cowboys.
North Queensland Cowboys Vs Newcastle Knights
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium
Date: Saturday, May 7, 7:35pm AEST
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Peta Hiku 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Reuben Cotter 11. Tom Gilbert 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 15. Hellum Luki 16. Coen Hess 17. Griffin Neame 18. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 19. Jake Granville 20. Kane Bradley 21. Ben Condon 22. Emry Pere 23. Taniela Sadrugu 24. Brendan Elliot
Todd Payten has named an unchanged side to take on the Knights following their superb win over the Eels last week.Embed from Getty Images
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Enari Tuala 4. Bradman Best 5. Dominic Young 6. Tex Hoy 7. Phoenix Crossland 8. David Klemmer 9. Chris Randall 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Leo Thompson 14. Jack Johns 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Mat Croker 17. Pasami Saulo 18. Simi Sasagi 19. Krystian Mapapalangi 20. Jaron Purcell 21. Brayden Musgrove 22. Dylan Phythian 23. Kobe Rugless 24. Ben Talty
There are mass changes for the Knights after an abysmal fortnight. Jake Clifford has been dropped with Tex Hoy named at five-eighth while Phoenix Crossland comes in at halfback for Adam Clune. Dominic Young and Lachlan Fitzgibbon are set to return from injury with Simi Sasagi and Brodie Jones making way. Mat Croker and Pasami Saulo are new additions on the bench.
Referee: Liam Kennedy
The story for the last two weeks couldn’t be any different for these sides. The Cowboys backed up their 30-4 win over the Titans in round seven with an even more impressive 35-4 thrashing of the Eels last week. Their defence was the standout in that victory before Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow blew out the scoreline late with a big spark off the bench. Meanwhile the Knights’ season has gone from bad to worse as they currently sit in last place after six straight losses, and losing their last two games by a combined margin of 89-4.
A trip to Townsville is currently not the type of matchup you want to try and get your season back on track but the Knights simply need to show some fight that has been clearly missing of the last couple of weeks. Coach Adam O’Brien has brought in some big changes with Hoy and Crossland the new halves pairing. Both players have shown a lot of potential and talent through their short careers but the pressure couldn’t be higher as they hope to spark a struggling side.
For the surprise packet Cowboys, it’s up to them to ensure this strong start to the year doesn’t go to waste. This is a game they should win. Scott Drinkwater has been the star, enjoying career best form at fullback while Valentine Holmes has found his home in the centres. In the forwards, Reuben Cotter has been a man on a mission in recent weeks, tackling himself to a standstill while Jason Taumalolo has also been finding his groove. Another strong performance from these key players and North Queensland should be able to come away with the victory.Embed from Getty Images
Defence is the difference between these two sides. The Cowboys have conceded just 97 points this season, second only to the Panthers, while the Knights are the worst in the competition, allowing 206 points through just eight games.
Cowboys by 14
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