Wests Tigers will take look to put a run of four consecutive defeats behind them when they face the North Queensland Cowboys this Saturday night in Townsville.
The Club’s first trip to 1300 SMILES Stadium in two-and-a-half years, Wests Tigers will certainly be boosted by the confirmation of Head Coach Ivan Cleary until the end of 2020 — providing players and fans alike with the stability needed to move forward in season 2017.
They’ll be without Luke Brooks (hamstring) and Matt Ballin (knee) however, with Jack Littlejohn again slotting into the halves and young gun Jacob Liddle named on the bench.
After going down at home to the Sea Eagles and only just getting past the Titans in the past month, North Queensland returned to form last weekend with a controlled 20-6 win over the Rabbitohs at home — further extending their winning streak at 1300 SMILES Stadium.
They’ll no doubt fancy their chances again this Saturday against Wests Tigers, having won 11 of 15 between the two at home against Wests Tigers and their last seven against all opponents.
Neil Henry’s men will certainly miss the presence of hooker Jake Granville on Saturday night, with the wiry rake ruled out for three to six weeks with a fractured leg. He is replaced in the team by Ben Hampton, while fullback Lachlan Coote remains in doubt.
Coen Hess drops back to the bench with Ethan Lowe returning to the right edge.
Despite varying levels of success for both Clubs over the past decade, it’s Wests Tigers who hold a surprising head-to-head advantage over the Cowboys in recent times — losing just five times to North Queensland since 2007 (winning 11 of 16).
The match will also be Chris Lawrence’s 200th NRL game since his debut back in 2006.
Date — Saturday, April 8, 2017
Time — 7:30pm AEST
Venue — 1300 SMILES Stadium, Townsville, QLD
TV, LIVE STREAM AND RADIO INFORMATION
TV — Channel 9 and Fox Sports League (Ch.502) from 7:30pm AEST
Radio — AM 702 ABC Grandstand (check local guides)
Live Stream —NRL Digital Pass and Foxtel Go (subscription required)
Referees — Grant Atkins and Chris Sutton
Touch Judge — Belinda Sleeman and Nick Morel
Review Officials — Ben Galea and Ashley Klein
1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Jamal Idris 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Moses Suli 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Jack Littlejohn 8. Aaron Woods 9. Matt McIlwrick 10. Ava Seumanufagai 11. Josh Aloiai 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Elijah Taylor (Interchange: 14. Tim Grant 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Michael Chee Kam 17. Jacob Liddle 18. Kyle Lovett 19. Joel Edwards 20. Justin Hunt 21. Junior Tatola).
North Queensland Cowboys
1. Lachlan Coote 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Javid Bowen 4. Kane Linnett 5. Gideon Gela-Mosby 6. Michael Morgan 7. Jonathan Thurston 8. Patrick Kaufusi 9. Ben Hampton 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo (Interchange: 14. Kalyn Ponga 15. John Asiata 16. Coen Hess 17. Shaun Fensom 18. Sam Hoare 19. Corey Jensen 20. Blake Leary 21. Ben Spina).
Wests Tigers and the Cowboys have both named 21-man squads for the contest, with two players to be omitted from each team 24 hours before kickoff (7:30pm, Friday) and a further two players to be omitted one hour before kickoff (6:30pm, Saturday).
Round 1 — Wests Tigers 34 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 18
Round 2 — Penrith Panthers 36 def. Wests Tigers 2
Round 3 — Canberra Raiders 46 def. Wests Tigers 6
Round 4 — Melbourne Storm 22 def. Wests Tigers 14
Round 5 — St. George-Illawarra Dragons 28 def. Wests Tigers 6
North Queensland Cowboys
Round 1 — North Queensland Cowboys 20 def. Canberra Raiders 16
Round 2 — North Queensland Cowboys 21 def. Brisbane Broncos 20
Round 3 — Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 30 def. North Queensland Cowboys 8
Round 4 — North Queensland Cowboys 32 def. Gold Coast Titans 26
Round 5 — North Queensland Cowboys 20 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 6
· Head-to-Head — Played 32, Wests Tigers 17, Cowboys 15
· At 1300 SMILES Stadium — Played 15, Cowboys 11, Wests Tigers 4
· Last Time They Met — Wests Tigers 26 def. Cowboys 14 (Rd.22, 2016)
THREE FINAL FACTS
· Aaron Woods has won five of seven games against the Cowboys
· James Tedesco has scored three tries in his last three games against the Cowboys
· Chris Lawrence won his 1st, 50th and 100th career NRL games