2023 NRL Preview Round 7: Warriors Vs Cowboys

Just four weeks after their last meeting, the North Queensland Cowboys have a chance to get revenge on the New Zealand Warriors when they meet in Auckland Saturday afternoon.



Warriors Vs Cowboys
Date: Saturday April 15, 3:00pm


Warriors: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Edward Kosi 3. Viliami Vailea 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Dylan Walker 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Freddy Lussick 10. Bunty Afoa 11. Jackson Ford 12. Bayley Sironen 13. Tohu Harris 14. Taine Tuaupiki 15. Josh Curran 16. Jazz Tevaga 17. Tom Ale 18. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 20. Ronald Volkman 21. Demitric Sifakula 22. Ali Leiataua 23. Zyon Maiu’u

Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Peta Hiku 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Mitchell Dunn 9. Reece Robson 10. Reuben Cotter 11. Coen Hess 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Jake Granville 15. Tomas Chester 16. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 17. Riley Price 18. Jack Gosiewski 19. Ben Hampton 20. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki 21. Brendan Elliot 22. Taniela Sadrugu


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The Warriors were too good for the Cowboys in Round 3, winning 26-12 in Townsville. Both sides will be desperate for victory here after suffering losses last time out.

The Warriors leaked too many points in their loss to Newcastle, while the Cowboys were also poor defensively as they suffered a 32-22 home loss to the Dolphins. Whilst the Warriors started the 2023 season well, the Cowboys have struggled to recapture the form that saw them become a premiership force in 2022. Both teams will be desperate to come away from this round holding the 2 points.

There are huge blows for the Warriors as they lose Te Maire Martin and Wayde Egan, with Dylan Walker and Freddy Lussick coming in as replacements. Walker has been a solid signing for the Warriors; however he’s primarily turned into a middle forward off the bench the last couple of seasons. Whilst the move has rejuvenated his career, he is going to need to turn back the clock to help the Warriors lay on points.

Speaking of nostalgia, Shaun Johnson continues to perform like its 2015 again, spearheading the Warriors attack week in and week out. With no Egan or Martin, even more pressure will be heaped on Johnson to create points against a Cowboys side that has been susceptible defensively.

Tohu Harris returns to the side at lock for the Warriors which is some rare positive news for the home team of late. No doubt his leadership will be valuable back on the field, but he will also bolster an already formidable forward pack that will like their chances against the Cowboys. The Warriors forwards have continued to perform consistently, and they come in with a full-strength rotation again.

After starting the season well defensively, the Warriors have had back-to-back weeks conceding 30 or more points to the opposition. Its a complete turnaround from one of the best defensive teams in the competition over the initial month of football. This will be a key point in determining if they are able to get the Victory at home and remain in the top 8 picture.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, have lost Griffin Neame for two months, however, they welcome back Jeremiah Nanai from suspension which is a huge inclusion. Brendan Elliott had a mixed outing in round 6 and Murray Taulagi returning this week on the wing will certainly provide more punch out wide.

Scott Drinkwater returned in round 6 and reminded Cowboys fans just how much they need him on the park. The attack looked better and saw the fullback account for 2 try assists and 2 line break assist for a side that’s struggled to score points consistently enough so far.

When looking at what could spark the Cowboys attack, the continued form of Valentine Holmes will also be heavily relied upon this week. He terrorised the Dolphins out wide last round with a try and line break assist as well as a massive game high 12 tackle breaks. The Sharks and Knights had multiple tries out wide through questionable defensive rotations the last two weeks, which makes this an intriguing matchup for Holmes.

Whilst some of the Cowboys attack is coming to life, the key for them to hit the heights of 2023 and stealing a win in New Zealand may actually be Tom Dearden. After bursting onto the origin stage last year and dominating 2022 he has had a somewhat reserved start to this season. Dearden has only accounted for 2 try assists in his 6 games so far and only had 4 total try involvements. He will need to deliver more for the Cowboys to start to consistently get wins and there is no better time than this week against the Warriors.

This match does appear to be one of the hardest to predict. The Cowboys travel from Townsville to Auckland which is the biggest trek in the NRL and will no doubt give the home side a key advantage. You do get the feeling though with Drinkwater and now the return of Nanai, if the Warriors can’t fix their recent defensive struggles, they can easily play the Cowboys into form, and a critical win.


Warriors 6, Cowboys 4.


Cowboys by 10.

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