Canterbury Bulldogs v North Queensland Cowboys – 7.50pm (AEST), Thursday, May 11 @ ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs: 1. William Hopoate 2. Kerrod Holland 3. Josh Morris 4. Brenko Lee 5. Brett Morris 6. Matt Frawley 7. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Greg Eastwood 13. David Klemmer 14. Sam Kasiano 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Adam Elliot 17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 20. Marcelo Montoya 23. Craig Garvey
Cowboys: 1. Lachlan Coote 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Michael Morgan 7. Ray Thompson 8. John Asiata 9. Jake Granville 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Ben Hampton 15. Coen Hess 16. Shaun Fensom 17. Ben Spina 18. Corey Jensen 20. Kyle Laybutt
— NQ Cowboys (@nthqldcowboys) May 10, 2017
The Storyline: Both mid-table teams are grappling with injuries to their linchpins, with Josh Reynolds sidelined for the Bulldogs and Johnathan Thurston out for the Cowboys. The visitors get a couple of spine players back in Lachlan Coote and Jack Granville, however. A spot in the top eight is on the line with both sides caught at the bottom end of four-team logjam for sixth due to their negative for-and-against.
The Stat: North Queensland’s away record (8 wins, 9 losses) against Canterbury is its best against any current club besides Penrith (9-8) and Souths (7-1-7). The Cowboys are on a four-match winning streak against the Bulldogs, and have won their last three as the away side.
It’s a big game for: Matt Frawley’s five-week NRL audition begins tonight, handed a start with Reynolds out after coming off the bench in the Bulldogs’ last four games. His poise and direction will be key for the blue-and-whites with Moses Mbye still lacking in that department. News that Kieran Foran will join the club in 2018 should also have Frawley primed to show Canterbury and other potential suitors what he is capable of.
— NRL Bulldogs (@NRL_Bulldogs) May 10, 2017
Last time they met: Ethan Lowe bagged a double while fellow back-rowers Jason Taumalolo and Coen Hess scored the Cowboys’ other two tries in a 24-16 win over the Bulldogs at Belmore Oval in Round 25 last season.
The Verdict: If the Bulldogs can build on their gutsy Round 9 win over the Raiders – where they lost Josh Reynolds and James Graham during the first half – they should be able to outlast Cowboys at ANZ Stadium by playing the percentages. Michael Morgan and Lachlan Coote have to stand up for the Cowboys, but it’s their pack that will be under the pump after being outmuscled on a few occasions recently. They need to tighten up defensively across the board after conceding 26+ points in five of their last seven games, while the Bulldogs need to make the most of their opportunities – they have failed to score more than 24 points this season. Coming off his best performance as a Bulldog and then starring for Tonga, Will Hopoate could be the difference. Bulldogs by 10
— Channel 9 (@Channel9) May 10, 2017