Monday Night Football

Picture: Glenn Barnes/
Cowboys fullback Matt Bowen has made a quiet start to the season. Picture: Glenn Barnes/
Last 5 Meetings

Round 25 2012 – North Queensland Cowboys 22 d Newcastle Knights 14 at Townsville
Round 10 2012 – North Queensland Cowboys 32 d Newcastle Knights 12 at Hunter Stadium
Round 18 2011 – North Queensland Cowboys 22 d Newcastle Knights 12 at Hunter Stadium
Round 2 2011 – Newcastle Knights 34 d North Queensland Cowboys 22 at Townsville
Round 20 2010 – North Queensland Cowboys 28 d Newcastle Knights 24 at Townsville

Current Form (most recent first)

Knights – LW
Cowboys – LW

Newcastle  has been forced to make several changes to the team that suffered a 32-0 drubbing at the hands of Manly in round two, with Dane Gagai and Willie Mason both suffering injuries in that match. Timana Tahu replaces Gagai in the centres, with David Fa’alogo set to play his first match for the Knights at prop, where he will face a baptism of fire against Australian bookends Matt Scott and James Tamou.

The Cowboys  have also made a host of changes following a disappointing performance last weekend, with defending premiers Melbourne giving the North Queenslanders a 32-10 drubbing in Townsville. Michael Morgan has recovered from a broken jaw and will line up alongside Jonathan Thurston at halfback, while backup hooker Anthony Mitchell and front rower Scott Bolton have been named to make their first appearances of the season from the bench.

1st Tryscorer

Although he was quiet against the Sea Eagles last week, Akuila Uate  will be the man that the Cowboys fear most at Hunter Stadium. He was unstoppable against Wests in week one, bagging a hat-trick and his duel with Ashley Graham will be one to savour.

While Ashley Graham  won’t fancy having to tackle Uate, he will fancy his chances of getting past him to find the tryline himself. He scored a brace in the corresponding fixture here last season and has nine tries from his past eight NRL matches.

Prediction – Both of these sides went into this year expected to challenge for the title and opened the season accordingly but suffered disappointing defeats in round two. Although North Queensland has a strong recent record against the Knights, winning the three most recent meetings between the clubs, including the past two here, Newcastle will be a tough nut to crack at home. They have won 11 of their past 13 Monday night matches at home and will a good account of themselves here. Newcastle Knights 1-12

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