The Cowboys welcome the Knights to 1300Smiles Stadium for this intriguing battle.
North Queensland will be aiming to avoid three straight defeats for the first time since Rounds 21 -23 last season. On that occasion they dropped games to the Storm, Wests Tigers and Roosters. They go into this having dropped back-to-back games with the latest of those being an encouraging 28-22 defeat to ladder leaders Stgeorge Illawarra.
Newcastle’s barren stretch continues but there have been positive signs in most of their displays including last week’s 24-6 defeat at the hands of the Sydney Roosters.
John Asiata slotted in perfectly to Johnathan Thurston’s role and almost lead the Cowboys to an upset win last week.
The big issue for the Cowboys against the Dragons was their terrible first half in which they completed just six sets, missed a string of tackles and committed several errors.
By the time they realised what had happened they were down 28-4. A huge second half comeback was thanks largely to the creativity of Asiata along with a completion rate of over 80 percent.
A big plus from last week’s effort was they kept the best attacking team in the competition scoreless in the second half.
NO KILLER INSTINCT
NEWCASTLE has been largely competitive against most of their opposition this season despite losing six of seven games.
Three of their defeats have been by single figure margins while two of the other three were by three tries or less. Even last week against the Roosters, they fought back to 12-6 and looked dangerous enough to tie the game with a few opportunities, however, they couldn’t make the most of them.
You get the feeling that is going to be a huge problem for the Knights this season.
Scoring just 15.7 points per game, Newcastle is equal last along with the Tigers for points scored while Wests and the Titans are the only team to have conceded more points (25.85ppg) at this stage of the season.
More often than not this fixture produces blowout results.
Four of the past seven results have been decided by 20 points or more while there has been an average points total of 44 during those fixtures.
Head-to-Head and it’s the Cowboys who have won the past two games but prior to that Newcastle had landed a double of their own. Newcastle’s record at 1300Smiles Stadium isn’t the best though, losing four of their past five visits but they did secure a win there back in Round 2 of the 2015 season.
With defence not a high priority for either side, Over 44.5 Total Match Points is the way to go for us. Take the $2.06 @ Sportsbet.
Although there is some temptation to take the odds about Newcastle ($3.65 @ Unibet), especially as the Cowboys are missing Thurston, we simply don’t have enough confidence to back Nathan Brown’s men at this stage.
We saw enough talent, intensity and enthusiasm from the reshuffled North Queensland outfit last week to suggest they can get over what should be a feisty Newcastle outfit here.
If anything, North Queensland will be keen to get back into the winners circle at home having dropped two games already at the venue this season to the Sea Eagles and Tigers.
NEWCASTLE +10.5 LINE