North Queensland Cowboys Vs New Zealand Warriors at 1300Smiles Stadium, Saturday 7.30pm
Cowboys try to stop slide against desperate New Zealand.
This game has all kinds of implications riding on it and it should be a cracking game. Both sides are last start losers and for the Cowboys they are attempting to halt a 3 game slide which is threatening to curtail their 2016 finals chances.
They were dreadful in periods last week against the Sydney Roosters and struggled with the line speed and pressure that the Roosters defence put them under. Paul Green is searching for answers as his side desperately tries to get back on the horse in the run to the finals. The Cowboys have been thoroughly outclassed in the forwards over the last fortnight and if they want to get back to their winning ways then there needs to be a dominant effort by the likes of Matt Scott, James Tamou and Jason Taumalolo up the middle. They won’t have it easy against a huge Warriors forward pack though.
The Warriors surprisingly lost against Souths last week 41-22 at home in New Zealand. No one saw this result coming, not even the Warriors. They were pummelled from pillar to post by the South Sydney forwards in the opening 40 mins and were unable to recover. It proved to be a costly defeat as they were bundled out of the top 8 and now face an uphill battle to play finals football in 2016. Similar to the Cowboys, they need their forwards to fire and hold the middle of the field if they want to gain victory. Andrew McFadden can ill afford another season without finals football.
Last Meeting: North Queensland Cowboys 50 defeated New Zealand Warriors 16 at Mt Smart Stadium, Round 24, 2015. The Cowboys ran riot in the adjacent round last season. The last 8 games between these sides has been split 4-4. However the Cowboys have wracked up 50 point scores in 2 of those 4 wins.
Who To Watch: The Cowboys will be delighted to head back home in this match and will hope that Jason Taumalolo can rediscover some of his powerful running of previous weeks. Look for him to wind up and dent back the defensive line of the Warriors with his powerful carries. He can bust tackles at will on his day and if he does this creates chances for his backs to run riot against a back peddling defensive line. Cowboys need a huge effort from their big lock forward on Saturday.
The Warriors have been pretty settled on their centres for most of the year and this had led to a consistent effort by one of their centres Solomon Kata. Kata had a remarkable 2015 season and has put in some amazing performances this season to show that it was no fluke. He is one of their most potent attacking weapons and has amazing speed and strength. Don’t be surprised to see him throw of props and second rowers who try to tackle him. Shaun Johnson needs to get the ball to in space and early. If he does this, Kata will run riot. Kata has 12 tries, 14 line breaks and averages 109 metres a game in season 2016.
The favourite: back at home the Cowboys are strong favourites.
My tip: Hard to go past the Cowboys at home. Fancy them to bounce back after a torrid last few weeks. Cowboys by 12