Jem Nash previews this Saturday night clash between the Cowboys and Panthers in Townsville.
North Queensland Cowboys Vs Penrith Panthers
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium
Date: Saturday September 3, 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. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Reuben Cotter 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Jake Granville 15. Tom Gilbert 16. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 17. Griffin Neame 18. Brendan Elliot 19. Riley Price 20. Connelly Lemuelu 21. Tom Dearden 22. Ben Condon
Tom Dearden is an outside chance to return after being named in the reserves. Drinkwater will start at fullback with Tabuai-Fidow named at five-eighth. Reuben Cotter comes into the starting side in place of the suspended Coen Hess with Griffin Neame named on the bench.Embed from Getty Images
Panthers: 1. Charlie Staines 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Robert Jennings 4. Thomas Jenkins 5. Christian Crichton 6. Kurt Falls 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Lindsay Smith 9. Mitch Kenny 10. Matthew Eisenhuth 11. Chris Smith 12. Scott Sorensen 13. J’maine Hopgood 14. Soni Luke 15. Eddie Blacker 16. Liam Henry 17. Jack Cole 18. Mavrik Geyer 19. Preston Riki 20. Ativalu Lisati 21. Liam Martin 22. Jaeman Salmon
Ivan Cleary has chosen to rest 13 regular starters from the Panthers side. Edwards, To’o, Crichton, Tago, May, Luai, Leota, Fisher-Harris, Kikau, Yeo, Koroisau and Leniu will all take the week off, while Martin has been named in the reserves. Sorensen returns from a calf injury while Eisenhuth and Lindsay Smith start in the front row. Kenny will captain the side at dummy half and Staines gets a run at fullback with Turuva and Christian Crichton on the wing and Jennings in the centres. Thomas Jenkins, Liam Henry, and Jack Cole will all make their NRL debut.
Referee: Todd Smith
The Cowboys have a chance to lock up second spot this weekend. If they win and the Knights can cause an upset over the Sharks, the Cowboys will host Cronulla next week. A loss could see them drop to fourth and face the minor premiers once again.
With the minor premiership well and truly locked up, almost the entire regular Panthers team will get a rest this week. A win against the Cowboys in Townsville is extremely unlikely but it provides three debutants with an exciting opportunity as well as young up-and-comers like Turuva, Lindsay Smith and Soni Luke some valuable first grade experience.
It’s a match the Cowboys simply shouldn’t lose. For them, it’s about making sure they come away with the two points in a strong win and gain some momentum ahead of a likely blockbuster clash against the Sharks in the first week of finals.Embed from Getty Images
The overall head-to-head between the two sides is relatively tight, with Panthers winning 21 of their 39 matches, including the last four in a row. The Cowboys couldn’t score a point against Penrith in their last clash back in round 12, going down 22-0.
Cowboys by 14.
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