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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
High stakes for both teams
The Canberra Raiders will be out to retain their place in the top four by accounting for the North Queensland Cowboys at GIO Stadium, in a clash set to have major ramifications for both clubs on Saturday afternoon.
Coming off back-to-back losses against competition heavyweights Sydney and South Sydney over the past fortnight, the Raiders will be eyeing their fourth straight win over the Cowboys for the first time since the early 2000s, while ensuring the Sea Eagles and Knights are kept at bay in the battle for a coveted top four finish.
Currently sitting in fourth position - their highest standing after ten rounds in 14 years - a loss could see the Green Machine realistically fall to sixth at the end of the round, with a win solidifying their place inside the top four due to a strong for-and-against differential.
Gaining an important inclusion from the team beaten by South Sydney, 16-12, last Saturday, coach Ricky Stuart has named New Zealand international Joseph Tapine on the bench in place of last week's debutant Sebastian Kris.
Coming away with an important win over Parramatta, 17-10, last Saturday in Townsville, the North Queensland Cowboys will be aiming to record consecutive wins for the first time this season.
Sitting in 13th position with the worst points differential of the four teams locked on eight competition points, coach Paul Green will be way of North Queensland's poor overall record in the nation's capital, having won six of 21 clashes, however recent history has proven more fruitful with the side managing two wins from their past four appearances at GIO Stadium.
Set to be without utility Ben Hampton until the final rounds of the regular season due to a ruptured bicep, speedster Gideon Gela-Mosby comes onto the wing for his first appearance this season, while Josh McGuire looms as a late inclusion in his bid to return to the field prior to Queensland naming the team for Origin I at the conclusion of the round.
In a milestone for dual premiership winner Justin O'Neill, the representative centre will play his 100th game for North Queensland after joining from Melbourne in 2015.
Last meeting: Round 4 2019 - Cowboys 12 Raiders 30
Who to watch: Among the new brigade of young Canberra players to burst onto the scene in 2019, Corey Horsburgh has been a consistent performer for Ricky Stuart since debuting in the opening round. Joining the Raiders from North Queensland last season as a development player, the 21-year-old Queenslander has looked at home in seven appearances this season, averaging just under 30 minutes per game, while showing no signs of being overawed by his opponents as seen by his running battle with Rabbitohs enforcer Sam Burgess last Saturday. Having already claimed bragging rights over his former club in Round 4, look for Horsburgh to make a mark on Saturday afternoon against the Cowboys aging forward pack.
Among the quickest players in the NRL, Gideon Gela-Mosby will be out to nail a permanent position in the Cowboys backline for the remainder of the season. Holding the NYC record for the most tries in a season with 39 four-pointers in a team that contained current first grade stars Kalyn Ponga, Viliame Kikau, Brandon Smith and Coen Hess, the 21-year-old speedster has struggled for game time under Paul Green, despite managing six tries in eight matches since debuting in 2017. Off-contract at season's end, look for Gela-Mosby to light up GIO Stadium on Saturday in a try-scoring display set to make rival clubs pay plenty of attention to the Torres Strait product.
The favourite: Despite staring down the prospect of three straight losses for the first time this season, the Raiders are expected to prove too strong for their opponents.
My tip: While the Raiders failed to come away with competition points over the past fortnight, the confidence gained from going the distance against two of the premier teams in the league should see Ricky Stuart's men play account for the Cowboys in a high-scoring affair. Raiders by 14.
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the country on which this match takes place - the Ngunnawal people, and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Bailey Simonsson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Nick Cotric 5. Michael Oldfield 6. Jack Wighton 7. Sam Williams 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliot Whitehead 13. Ryan Sutton 14. Siliva Havili 15. Joseph Tapine 16. Iosia Soliola 17. Corey Horsburgh
1. Jordan Kahu 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O'Neill 4. Tom Opacic 5. Gideon Gela-Mosby 6. John Asiata 7. Michael Morgan 8. Matt Scott 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 15. Mitchell Dunn 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Kurt Baptiste 17. Francis Molo 19. Shane Wright 20. Josh McGuire
Referees: Henry Perenara, Jon Stone; Sideline Officials: Jeff Younis, Drew Oultram; Video Referees: Jared Maxwell, Ben Galea;