North Queensland Cowboys v New Zealand Warriors
Saturday, August 20, 7.30pm (AEST), 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville
|Best Bet: New Zealand +13.5 ($1.90)
Other: New Zealand +6.5 ($2.51)
Shaun Johnson First Try ($21.00)
The out-of-form Cowboys strike a Warriors team in need of a win in what is one of the most exciting matches of the round. For North Queensland, a loss will all but rule the defending premiers out of a Top 4 berth.
North Queensland get Antonio Winterstein back in place of Javid Bowen while Coen Hess replaces John Asiata. Andrew McFadden has dropped Tuimoala Lolohea, seeing Blake Ayshford start in the centres and James Gavet come onto the bench.
New Zealand have won 18 of the 35 meetings with North Queensland with the Cowboys claiming victory on 17 occasions. The Cowboys won both meetings last year 28-24 and 50-16, the first time they have swept a season series since 2005. The Cowboys have won 9 of the last 10 in Townsville, with five wins by 20-plus. Four of the last six matches have topped 47 points. Kyle Feldt has scored four tries in three games against the Warriors.
North Queensland are fifth on the ladder with a 12-9 record and the second best differential. The Cowboys have dropped three straight and four of their last five with their last two losses coming to teams outside the Top 8. The Cowboys have been held to 20 or less in 9 of their last 12. New Zealand have dropped out of the Top 8 and are now ninth on the ladder with a 10-11 record. They have a negative differential, rank seventh in attack and 12th in defence. The Warriors come into this off their worst loss of the season, a home embarrassment to South Sydney.
Johnathan Thurston v Shaun Johnson. Thurston is the best player in the game but he has been well below his best the last fortnight after coming back from injury. He has been targeted and has not responded well. Johnson is the most dynamic player in the premiership but he is prone to go missing and was nowhere to be seen when the Warriors were thumped by Souths. This is a critical matchup.
Stats That Matter
North Queensland are 10-11 ATS this year with a 13-8 under record while New Zealand are 10-11 ATS with a 12-9 over number. The Warriors have gone under in 6 of their last 8 while the Cowboys have gone under in six straight with the Cowboys covering just 3 of their last 12. The Cowboys are 13-5 ATS since 2013 as a double digit home favourite, scoring 30 in their last eight in the situation. The Warriors are 11-6 under on the road when an outsider of 6.5 or more. Road outsiders of 6.5 or more are 25-19 ATS with a 26-18 under record after conceding 35 points.
The Cowboys have lost the opening 20 minutes in just 6 of 21 matches this year. The Warriors have come back from just 2 of 12 halftime deficits this year.
The line in this game is silly. The Cowboys with a big start are typically highly reliable at home but New Zealand had been playing well enough until last week and teams embarrassed like they were are often more resilient the following match. With a huge start New Zealand can be bet.
How It’s Shaping Up
North Queensland by 6
New Zealand +13.5 ($1.90)
New Zealand +6.5 ($2.51)
Best First/Last Tryscorer
Shaun Johnson ($21.00)
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