Cowboys v Eels preview

Cowboys v Eels preview

North Queensland Toyota Cowboys v Parramatta Eels
7.30pm (local), Saturday 12 March, Pirtek Stadium

Referees: Jared Maxwell, Adam Gee
Review officials: Ben Galea, Jason Robinson
Touch judges: Russell Turner, Ricky MacFarlane
Broadcast: Fox Sports, 4TOFM

POSITION
Cowboys
: 7th (2 points) after Round 1 – defeated Sharks 20-14, 1300SMILES Stadium
Eels: 13th (0 points) after Round 1 – lost to Broncos 17-14, Pirtek Stadium

TEAMS

Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Michael Morgan, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matt Scott (c), 9 Jake Granville, 10 James Tamou, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 Rory Kostjasyn, 15 John Asiata, 16 Scott Bolton, 17 Ben Hannant. Coach: Paul Green.

Eels: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Semi Radradra, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Brad Takairangi, 5 Clint Gutherson, 6 Corey Norman, 7 Kieran Foran (c), 8 Junior Paulo, 9 Nathan Peats, 10 Tim Mannah, 11 Manu Ma’u, 12 Beau Scott, 13 Tepai Moeroa. Interchange: 14 Kaysa Pritchard, 15 Peni Terepo, 16 Danny Wicks, 17 Kenny Edwards, 18 Daniel Alvaro. Coach: Brad Arthur.

CASUALTY WARD
Cowboys
: Tautau Moga (knee); Ray Thompson (ankle)
Eels: Anthony Watmough (knee)

MATCH FACTS

  • The Cowboys enter their fifth-straight NRL match with exactly the same team, the lineup streak extending back to week 2 of the 2015 Finals. Head coach Paul Green also used the same 17 in the team’s comprehensive World Club Challenge triumph over Leeds last month.
  • The Cowboys have won their past four NRL games, including the 2015 grand final and last week’s opening round win over the Sharks.
  • The Eels welcome star off-season recruit Kieran Foran into the team for the first time this year after he was a late injury withdrawal against the Broncos in Round 1.
  • The Cowboys have won six of the past eight matches between the sides, including last year’s memorable 36-30 Round 13 victory at Pirtek Stadium when trailing 30-6.
  • In those six wins, the Cowboys have put 40 or more points on the Eels on three occasions: 46-4 last year, 42-14 in 2014 and 40-26 in 2011.
  • That 46-4 win in Townsville last year was the biggest-ever Cowboys win over the Eels, while Parramatta defeated the Cowboys 62-0 in 2001. Head-to-head, though, the Eels have a 33-17 edge over the Cowboys, with one game drawn. At Pirtek Stadium, the home side have the edge in total games played between the sides to the tune of 12-6.
  • Eels hooker Nathan Peats made an incredible 60 tackles in last week’s loss to the Broncos.
  • Cowboys hooker Jake Granville (39) was his team’s leading tackler in Round 1.
  • Granville’s forward teammate Jason Taumalolo made an impressive 181 metres, a good swag of them while under heavy contact.
  • NQ back-rower Ethan Lowe will be backing up from one of the best games in his NRL career, the hardworking forward running for 143m, making 38 tackles, scoring his ninth NRL try and setting up a classic four-pointer for centre Justin O’Neill in a true man-of-the-match performance.

MATCH UPSEels left edge v Cowboys right edge

The opposing centres in Justin O’Neill and Rod Jennings, plus duelling wingers Kyle Feldt and Semi Radradra, are poised to enter into a thrilling battle of speed, power and defensive will, when the Cowboys’ potent right side lines up against the Eels on the left.

Feldt and O’Neill have hit the ground running in 2016.

Firstly, giant winger Feldt continued on from his 2015 grand final heroics when, in the World Club Challenge triumph over Leeds, he scored a try after putting a fearsome fend on his celebrated Leeds opposite Ryan Hall.

O’Neill just keeps gets better and better in Cowboys colours, and has scored five tries in his past four NRL matches, plus a double in Leeds.

The pair will be up against man mountain and 2015 try-scoring leader Radradra (24 four-pointers) and classy veteran and Origin stalwart Jennings, who moved to the Eels from the Roosters in the off-season.  

It will be a four-pronged battle royale on the edges.

FINAL WORD

Cowboys coach Paul Green: “Continuity’s always a good thing” – on the Cowboys going into the match set to field the same side they have fielded since week 2 of the 2015 Finals. The side has remained consistent through three NRL finals, a World Club Challenge match and Round 1, 2016.

Nathan Peats (Eels hooker): “Every game against the Cowboys is tough, and they are coming off a win and the World Club Challenge as well, so obviously they are a great side with a big forward pack too.”

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