SBW will direct the Roosters around the park on Saturday night. Picture: Mark Evans/dailytelegraph.com.au
North Queensland Cowboys v Sydney Roosters
1300 Smiles Stadium
Saturday May 17 – 7:35 PM (AEST)
This one shapes as a blockbuster in Townsvillem with both teams hitting some great form. The Sydney Roosters are coming off a convincing 30-6 win over the Tigers last week, while the North Queensland Cowboys stood tall beating big brother the Brisbane Broncos 27-14. With Origin selection only a few days away, the players have one last chance to push for spot.
The Roosters were impressive, without being spectacular last round. Off the back of some strong running up front from Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Sam Moa, they seemed to have found the direction which was missing in the opening rounds. But once again, while one good thing happens, something bad overshadows it. With the scandal surrounding Mitchell Pearce early this week, the Roosters have opted to ban the NSW half-back for one-week. Sonny Bill Williams moves into five-eighth and James Maloney plays half to cover Pearce. Mitchell Aubusson replaces SBW in the second row, with both Daniel Mortimer and Samisoni Langi added to an extended bench.
It was a party last Friday in Townsville. Impressive across the park, the Cowboys hit the form which saw them take the Auckland 9’s trophy in the pre-season. Johnathan Thurston was clinical, Matt Scott a wrecking ball and Michael Morgan flawless in what was a very polished performance. The return of a few stars from injury means good things are on the horizon for the Cowboys. Antonio Winterstein replaces the injured Curtis Rona on the wing, Ray Thompson comes into half-back for Robert Lui who drops back to QLD Cup, and Tariq Sims comes back into the second row, dropping Scott Bolton to the bench, with Glenn Hall the 18th man.
While SBW is not a noted five-eighth, his running game is second-to-none. But the Cowboys are teeming with confidence and their stars are beginning to shine, so the home ground advantage is the probably the last ingredient needed to roast the chooks.
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