Unavailable: Josh Chudleigh, Kane Linnett, Jordan McLean, John Asiata
North Queensland suffered heartbreak last week as they lost to a point against South Sydney in dramatic circumstances. Souths attempted a drop goal to level the scores with seconds remaining but Jake Granville was adjudged to have not been standing square with Adam Reynolds slotting the penalty from in front of the posts to seal a 19-20 win.
The Cowboys are unchanged this week which means Lachlan Coote will spend a second week on the outer having been dropped last week. Michael Morgan remains at fullback with Te Maire Martin taking up the role of five-eighth.
North Queensland had more of the ball than their opponents last week (54%), something that has happened a lot this season. However, they have struggled to turn that possession into points and despite having the joint-second highest possession over the course of the season with 52%, they are the fourth lowest scorers with just 181 points.
Head Coach: Craig Bellamy
Starting 13: Hughes, Vunivalu, Chambers, Tonumaipea, Addo-Carr, Munster, Jacks, J. Bromwich, C. Smith, Asofa-Solomona, F. Kaufusi, Stimson, Finucane – Interchanges: B. Smith, Glasby, K. Bromwich, Kasiano – Reserves: P. Kaufusi, Olam
Unavailable: Sandor Earl, Curtis Scott, Billy Slater
Melbourne failed to score a try as they went down at home to Manly last week. Curtis Scott’s sending off in the second half proved too much for the Storm to overcome despite the Sea Eagles also receiving three second half sin-bins as they fell to a 4-24 defeat.
Billy Slater has been ruled out with a hamstring injury so Jahrome Hughes will start at fullback in one of numerous changes. Cameron Smith and Sam Kasiano return from suspension whilst Jesse Bromwich is also back from injury. Young Tonumaipea comes in for the suspended Curtis Scott whilst Ryan Hoffman and Harry Grant are dropped.
Errors were again a problem for the Storm as they came up with 15 of them as they completed just 23 of 28 sets for a 61% completion rate. They have made 136 errors this season, the second highest in the NRL.
North Queensland will need a quick response to last week’s heart breaking loss if they are to stay in touch with the top 8 as their chances of playing finals football diminish by the week. They host Melbourne this week who have a handful of big names back in their side. Cameron Smith, Sam Kasiano and Jesse Bromwich return to boost the pack but the Storm will be without backs Billy Slater and Curtis Scott through injury and suspension respectively. The Cowboys are six points outside of the top 8 as it stands and that margin could be even larger by the end of Round 12 with the Storm likely to bounce back from their disappointing defeat last week.