NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Cowboys
Canberra Raiders v North Queensland Cowboys on Sunday at 3:00pm at GIO Stadium Canberra
The Raiders will attempt to turn around their three match losing streak when they face an Origin-depleted North Queensland Cowboys outfit this Sunday at home.
After two uncharacteristic losses, the Raiders delivered a vastly improved effort against the Panthers last weekend where they went down by just six points.
The Green Machine may well have got the two points over Penrith had it not been for some dubious refereeing decisions but as Jarrod Croker outlined, the squad has moved on and all eyes are on the Cowboys this Sunday.
“I was filthy at the time but at the end of the day what can you do? There’s no point complaining about it, we just have to move on and focus on getting the two points this week against the Cowboys,” Croker said.
Whilst North Queensland will be without their star quartet of Jonathon Thurston, Matt Scott, James Tamou and Brent Tate due to State of Origin representation, the Raiders can ill-afford to fall into the trap of taking the Cowboys lightly because of their absence.
“The Cowboys are missing a few players through Origin but the Cowboys line-up is still fairly impressive and the fact is we really need these two points to turn our season around,” Campese said.
“These are the danger games every year. As we’ve seen in the past, the players that get an opportunity to come into sides during this period are really out to impress so we’ll have to be at our best.
“The players coming in are young and enthusiastic and the guys that get their shot this week will want to impress enough to be there for the next week. It’s a much needed two points for us so we will need to turn up with the right attitude.”
Regardless of who they have out, the Cowboys have enjoyed a strong record against the Raiders since 2007, winning 10 of the past 13 encounters and two of the past three games at GIO Stadium Canberra.
North Queensland has also won the rival’s most recent fixture in the opening round of the season and as such Canberra will be out for revenge.
One player who was not a part of that loss was Mitch Cornish, who has been selected to make his debut this Sunday off the interchange bench.
“He’s a talented kid and deserves his opportunity but we can’t be expecting him to perform miracles out there. It’s up to the senior players to stand up and lead the way forward for the younger guys like Mitch,” said Josh McCrone, who will likely revert to hooker when Cornish enters the fray.
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Anthony Milford v Michael Morgan
Thrust into the number one jersey following a season ending injury to Lachlan Coote over the pre-season, Michael Morgan has been a revelation at fullback for the Cowboys this year.
Particularly over the past month, Morgan has taken his game to a new level proving to be a vital cog in the Cowboys’ attacking structure and a dependable last line of defence.
In his 10 games this year, Morgan has averaged 108 metres per game and scored four impressive tries. Having grown up playing in the halves, his short kicking game in particular is something that his opposite number Milford will have to watch carefully.
Milford has been simply outstanding for the Raiders with his wide arrange of attacking gifts frequently igniting the side in every match this season.
The pocket dynamo has the most line breaks in the NRL with 12 and will again be pivotal for the Green Machine’s success in this clash.
Mitch Cornish v Ray Thompson
With Thurston absent due to Origin selection, Ray Thompson has been re-called into the Cowboys’ line-up to take his place.
There will be plenty of pressure on Thompson and his halves partner Robert Lui to stand up in Thurston’s absence given his dominance and authority over the team’s attacking structure; Thurston leads the NRL in line break assists with nine and is second in try assists with 11.
No doubt Ricky Stuart will have his troops directing plenty of traffic and pressure at the new-look halves combination for North Queensland.
Promising prospect, Mitch Cornish can also expect the same from the Cowboys in his debut match in the NRL.
Cornish has been selected from the interchange bench for the clash and will most likely enter the fray at halfback with Josh McCrone reverting to the hooking role.
David Shillington v Ashton Sims
The Raiders can expect a spirited performance by Ashton Sims in this encounter and the experienced front-rower will need to lift with the club’s star bookends Matt Scott and James Tamou unavailable this weekend.
The representative pair regularly set a tremendous foundation for North Queensland and Sims will be out to ensure that their loss isn’t felt too heavily.
Conversely, Shillington will look to assert his dominance in the middle of the field to enable Campese, McCrone and debutant Cornish the room to display their attacking prowess.
Shillington has regained his spot in the starting line-up and will be instrumental in turning the side’s fortunes of late around.
Last 3 results:
- North Queensland defeated Canberra 28-22 at 1300 SMILES Stadium in Round 1 2014
- Canberra defeated North Queensland 26-18 at GIO Stadium Canberra in Round 17 2013
- North Queensland defeated Canberra 30-12 at 1300 SMILES Stadium in Round 7 2013
Record against the Cowboys:
In a total of 33 games against the Cowboys, the Raiders have registered 19 wins and 14 losses.
Cowboys record at GIO Stadium Canberra:
In a total of 16 games played at GIO Stadium Canberra, the Cowboys have won an impressive 12 games and lost on just four occasions.
They said it:
Terry Campese: “We were better on the weekend and it was a much tighter game but we were disappointed because we still didn’t get the two points in the end. We let the game slip and we will need to make sure that doesn’t happen again so we can turn our season around and climb up the ladder.
Jarrod Croker: “It’s a must-win game regardless of who they’ve got in their team. They do lose a fair bit without Thurston obviously, I think he’s the best player in the world, but they will be used to playing with him during this period because he’s played for Queensland on so many occasions.”
Mitch Cornish: “I started off playing for the Raiders in the Under 16s so to come through the grades and finally run out onto Canberra Stadium in the NRL is a dream come true for me.”