Cowboys v Warriors preview - 2017 Round 20

North Queensland Cowboys v Warriors Saturday 7:30pm at 1300SMILES Stadium

Cowboys aim to consolidate top 8 status against unpredictable Warriors

The North Queensland Cowboys and New Zealand Warriors do battle up in Townsville for Saturday night football. The Warriors season is on life support and the season ending injury to Shaun Johnson further complicates matters. They are locked on 18 points with a number of teams and nothing less then a will do for the Kiwi's. It is hard to see any thing other than a Cowboys win, although when the Warriors turn it on they can beat any team in the NRL. Unfortunately, we don't see that enough.

Mason Lino comes in to replace the injured Johnson and will be hoping to take his chance having gained experience in the Intrust Super Premiership with the Warriors in 2017.

The Cowboys put forward an adequate performance last week to defeat Souths but at times were guilty of coasting and going through the motions. They can't afford to do that this week with a Warriors side that is capable of scoring points, facing off against them.

With only four points separating 1st from 6th, the Cowboys need to keep winning to keep up pace with the top teams. A top four birth would help its charge in the finals. No changes for the Cowboys who should lineup 1-17.

Last meeting: Round 24 2016 - Cowboys 34 Warriors 6

The Cowboys have won the past three games including the meeting last year. The Warriors have won just five times in 17 matches in Townsville.

Who to watch: The Cowboys have been kept afloat by Lachlan Coote and co since the injury of Jonathan Thurston. Along with Te Maire Martin and Michael Morgan, they have all provided attacking opportunities and play very well. Coote at the back has been a safe as houses as well as potent in attack. Look for him to try and dent the Warriors defensive line when he returns kicks as well as chiming into the attacking line from the back. He has evasive footwork and good passing skills. A real asset to the Cowboys.

The Warriors will be relying on Mr Consistent Simon Mannering to hold the middle third of the field defensively as they look to pull off an upset victory. Mannering is a superb defender that gets through a lot of work (both attack and defence). He will be everywhere on Saturday night as has become customary with the Warriors captain.

The favourite: Cowboys are strong favourites at home.

My tip: Cowboys to win this match on the back of their solid form, Warriors will struggle without Johnson as well as the long travel from NZ. Cowboys by 12.

1. Lachlan Coote 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O'Neill 4. Kane Linnett 21. Javid Bowen 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Michael Morgan 16. Shaun Fensom 9. Jake Granville 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo 8. John Asiata 14. Ben Hampton 15. Coen Hess 17. Corey Jensen

1. Roger Tuivasa-sheck 2. David Fusitua 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kieran Foran 7. Mason Lino 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Issac Luke 10. Ben Matulino 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Bunty Afoa 13. Simon Mannering 14. Mafoa'aeata Hingano 15. Sam Lisone 17. Ligi Sao 20. Chris Satae

Referees: Henry Perenara, Tim Roby; Sideline Officials: Clayton Sharpe, Dave Ryan; Video Referees: Luke Patten, Steve Chiddy;

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