2018 NRL – North Queensland Cowboys vs Newcastle Knights Preview

AT A GLANCE

When? Friday 27th July, 09:00 (UK)

Where? 1300SMILES Stadium

What channel is it on? UK - North Queensland Cowboys vs Newcastle Knights will not be televised live in the UK
Australia - Foxtel, LIVE PASS

Where can I stream the match? UK - N/A

Australia - https://www.telstra.com.au/tv-movies-music/sports-offer

Are tickets still available? http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/Show.aspx?sh=COW2018

THE STATISTICS

THE LOWDOWN

COWBOYS

Head Coach: Paul Green

Starting 13: Martin, Feldt, Tuala, Linnett, O’Neill, Clifford, Thurston, Asiata, Granville, Bolton, Cooper, Hess, Taumalolo – Interchanges: Hampton, Fensom, Dunn, Jensen – Reserves: Scott, Lowe, Molo, McLean Winterstein

Unavailable: Josh Chudleigh, Michael Morgan, Sam Hoare

  • North Queensland’s poor form continued as they were beaten by St George last week. The Cowboys were second best for large spells with the Dragons always keeping them at bay as they suffered a 10-24 defeat.

  • The Cowboys are unchanged from last week’s game but Jordan McLean and Matt Scott could be late inclusions having been named amongst the reserves. Antonio Winterstein announced his immediate retirement this week due to an ongoing knee issue.

  • With their fifth defeat in a row, the Cowboys are now level on points with bottom-placed Eels and face a real battle to avoid the wooden spoon a year after losing the Grand Final.

KNIGHTS

Head Coach: Nathan Brown

Starting 13: Ponga, Sio, Mata’utia, Ross, Kenny-Dowall, Watson, Pearce, Lillyman, Levi, D. Saifiti, Fitzgibbon, Barnett, Guerra – Interchanges: Buhrer, Heighington, King, Ese’ese – Reserves: Meaney, Denniss, Cogger, Felise

Unavailable: Tautau Moga, Jacob Saifiti, Slade Griffin

  • Newcastle picked up another win last week as they saw off Gold Coast. With the scores level heading into the final 10 minutes, a Shaun Kenny-Dowall try was enough for the Knights to claim the points in an entertaining contest as they sealed a 30-24 win.

  • Kalyn Ponga has been named to return at fullback in an attempt to continue his charge towards the Dally M medal. However, doubts remain about his fitness and he could be a late scrub. Sione Mata’utia is also back from injury and replaces Cory Denniss in the centres.

  • The Knights won back-to-back games for the first time since April, highlighting Mitchell Pearce’s importance to this side. If Ponga can also make a return against his former club, there’s no reason the Knights can’t make it three in a row here.

THE PREDICTION

The build-up to this game has focused on the potential return of rising star Kalyn Ponga and how he slipped the grasps of North Queensland as they failed to re-sign him last year before he headed to Newcastle. With the Cowboys’ struggles this year pressing home that fact, Ponga could come back to haunt his old club not just in this game but for many years to come. The Cowboys have lost five in a row and could end the season with the wooden spoon if they don’t pick up some wins soon. The Knights on the other hand have won their last two and it isn’t a coincidence that they have come since the return of Mitchell Pearce. With him and Ponga in the same side, the Knights can kick on in the coming years but a win in Townsville will be the first thing on their agenda.