5.30pm (AEST), Saturday, 5.30pm
1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville
North Queensland have emphatically overcome a poor start to the year to piece together a rollicking three-game streak. This week they host the ever enigmatic Warriors, who got back to winning ways in Manu Vatuvei’s milestone match last week.
Both sides are unchanged, with Jake Granville retaining the Cowboys’ starting hooker role ahead of Rory Kostjasyn and Jonathan Wright keeping his place on the Warriors’ flank despite David Fusitua’s successful NSW Cup return.
The Warriors hold an 18-15 lead in the all-time tally, but the Cowboys have won nine of 14 at home. The Warriors have won four of the last five clashes, including a 20-16 upset early in 2014 that broke a 12-year Townsville drought. The home side has prevailed in 13 of the last 15 Cowboys-Warriors encounters. Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman is a former Cowboy, while Cowboys lock Jason Taumololo rejected a massive offer to join the Warriors in 2016 earlier this year.
The Cowboys backed up their comprehensive thumping of Penrith by overwhelming South Sydney 30-12, fighting back from a 12-4 halftime scoreline to run out convincing winners. After erratic losses to Brisbane and Melbourne, the Warriors held off Wests Tigers 32-22 in an entertaining but scrappy encounter. The Warriors led 20-6 at one stage but repeatedly let the Tigers back into the game with unforced errors.
Shaun Johnson has improved over the last three weeks, culminating in his first try and a confident running game against the Tigers. He is building back toward his Golden Boot-winning form, albeit slowly. Johnathan Thurston, meanwhile, produced his third straight man-of-the-match performance against the Rabbitohs, a spell-binding display that reignited the debate as to whether he is the best ever.
Stats That Matter
The Cowboys are an imposing 20-8 at home (17-11 against the line) since the beginning of 2013, including 17-5 as favourites (14-8 ATS). The Warriors are a dismal 9-18 overall and against the line away from home from 2013-15, with a 15-12 record to the under. As away outsiders, the Warriors are just 3-13 (5-11 ATS). On Saturday night, the Cowboys are 12-5 at home over the last three seasons (11-6 against the start) and the Warriors are 3-4 on the road (2-5 ATS).
The Cowboys’ recent performances and formidable home record, along with the Warriors’ dismal away stats, are impossible to overlook. But the Warriors have had the wood on the Cowboys for some time and have often been one of the few teams capable of shutting down Thurston. Last year’s result in Townsville should be a cautionary tale for the Cowboys if they start thinking the inconsistent, poor-travelling Warriors will roll over. But Thurston’s rare touch – even by his lofty standards – should see the home side get up. The Warriors need Johnson and fellow game-breakers, Konrad Hurrell (who starred in last year’s boilover) and Tuimoala Lolohea at their best. It should be a close-fought, rollercoaster struggle – despite the short $1.34 available for a Cowboys victory. Consider the 1-12 margins and the Warriors with the start.
How It’s Shaping Up
North Queensland by 2
Warriors +8.5 ($1.91)
Other Recommended Bets
Under 43.5 ($1.90)
2015 NRL Round 7 Betting Preview for Nth Queensland vs Warriors thanks to William Hill Australia.
Nth Queensland vs Warriors Comparison Betting Odds
Below we have 2015 NRL Round 7 comparison betting odds from leading Australian and International online sportsbooks for the game.