2024 NRL: Round 18 Preview, Cowboys Vs Sea Eagles

Check out the match preview and prediction for the round 18 clash between Cowboys and Sea Eagles.



North Queensland Cowboys Vs Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
Date: Saturday 6 July, 7:35pm


Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Valentine Holmes, 4. Viliami Vailea, 5. Murray Taulagi, 6. Tom Dearden, 7. Chad Townsend, 8. Jordan McLean, 9. Reece Robson, 10. Jason Taumalolo, 11. Heilum Luki, 12. Jeremiah Nanai, 13. Reuben Cotter, 14. Sam McIntyre, 15. Harrison Edwards, 16. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki, 17. Griffin Neame, 18. Jake Granville, 19. Braidon Burns, 20. Thomas Mikaele, 21. Jake Clifford, 22. Jaxon Purdue

Sea Eagles: 1. Tolutau Koula, 2. Jason Saab, 3. Tom Trbojevic, 4. Reuben Garrick, 5. Tommy Talau, 6. Luke Brooks, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans, 8. Toafofoa Sipley, 9. Jake Simpkin, 10. Josh Aloiai, 11. Haumole Olakau’atu, 12. Ben Trbojevic, 13. Jake Trbojevic, 14. Lehi Hopoate, 15. Karl Lawton, 16. Ethan Bullemor, 17. Nathan Brown, 18. Clayton Faulalo, 19. Aaron Schoupp, 20. Gordon Chan Kum Tong, 21. Caleb Navale, 22. Aitasi James

Referee: Todd Smith

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The round 18 match between the ninth placed Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and the seventh placed North Queensland Cowboys at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday night could be an exciting spectacle, with one team vying for a top eight spot and the other aiming to get closer to a top four spot on the ladder.

Following a bye in round 16, the Cowboys jumped into the top eight with an impressive win over the Panthers last weekend (16-6).

The Cowboys provided the necessary speed and momentum to advance in field position, and they dominated possession with strong defence and attack, making the Panthers work hard and allowing the Cowboys to capitalise on mistakes.

The Cowboys, who have won just three of their last eight games at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, appear to be underdogs at home.

They have reshuffled their lineup with the return of Origin reps Valentine Holmes, Murray Taulagi, Tom Dearden, Reuben Cotter, Jeremiah Nanai, and Reece Robson; while Kulikefu Finefeuiaki, Sam McIntyre, Harrison Edwards, and Griffin Neame are all benched for this match.

The combination of Holmes offering momentum in the middle, Scott Drinkwater’s speed and endurance on the outside edge, and captain Dearden at five-eight providing guidance and direction could help the Cowboys advance towards victory.

Kyle Feldt was one of the Cowboys’ movers and shakers, diving over the line in the 10th minute to give his team an early lead over the Panthers. Feldt has five tries in his last five games. He looks ready to ruffle the Sea Eagles’ feathers.

Nanai, Cotter, and Jason Taumalolo will return to lead the Cowboys’ forward pack, providing a steel wall and boosting an already elevated level of confidence.

The Cowboys defeated the Sea Eagles 19-8 in their previous meeting. They are full of confidence after last weekend’s onslaught and are out to prove that defeating the Sea Eagles is a simple task.

The Sea Eagles may just have luck on their side this weekend, having been undefeated in Townsville since 2016.

The Sea Eagles got wiped out by the Rabbitohs in round 16, losing 14-0 as they battled torrential rain and were missing 12 of their top players due to injury and Origin.

A bye in round 17 could be exactly what they needed to re-energise and regroup on their game plan, giving them the determination to go out there and finish the job.

The Sea Eagles will be comforted by the fact that their captain, Daly Cherry-Evans, will be returning. His guidance and direction, combined with Reuben Garrick’s strong kicking game, could be the game changers they need.

After recovering from a hamstring injury, powerhouse Tom Trbojevic will return to provide much-needed muscle. This is his first game since round 10, and he could provide the necessary force in the middle.

The return of Haumole Olakau’atu could be tough for the Cowboys, slowing their progress towards their try line.

With the combined velocity and athleticism of explosive try-scoring weapons Jason Saab and Tommy Talau on the outside edges, the Cowboys’ defensive line could be tested.

Given recent match results, it is anyone’s guess who will win in what could be a significant upset.

Head-to-head stats can be found at Number Crunch Stats.


Check out all the NRL Predictions here.

Cowboys by 12 points.

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