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Cowboys looking for better start

The North Queensland Cowboys are back at Dairy Farmers in round nine for the first time in three weeks, hoping to improve on their last start.
Cowboys looking for better start
by NRL

The North Queensland Cowboys are back at Dairy Farmers in round nine for the first time in three weeks, hoping to improve on their last start. The Cowboys conceded 20 unanswered points inside the opening quarter against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, before staging a strong fight-back, eventually losing by four points. The home will be looking to build on their second half performance. The visitors this week, the St George Illawarra Dragons were last start victors, scoring two tries in the final six minutes to chase down the Sydney Roosters in the ANZAC Day clash last Wednesday. The nine day break will see the Dragons refreshed and ready to play, meaning the Cowboys will need to be prepared for an early onslaught.

The teams: The North Queensland Cowboys have named the same 17 that ran out against the Rabbitohs, with Glenn Hall being included as 18th man. Inspirational co-captain Matt Scott and outside back Kane Linnett may be late inclusions, which will be a boost for the home side who have only recorded one win from four games at home this season. The Dragons have been forced to make a number of changes with representative forward Beau Scott being ruled out with an elbow injury and bench player Josh Miller not impressing in his first match of the season. Both players are replaced by youngsters Kyle Stanley and Jack de Belin respectively with Matt Prior moving back into the forward pack.

Cowboys: Matt Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Antonio Winterstein, Kalifa Fai Fai Loa, Johnathan Thurston, Ray Thompson, Ashton Sims, Aaron Payne, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Tariq Sims, Dallas Johnson. Interchange (from): James Segeyaro, Scott Bolton, Ricky Thorby, Jason Taumalolo, Glenn Hall.

Dragons: Brett Morris, Daniel Vidot, Kyle Stanley, Matt Cooper, Jason Nightingale, Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby, Dan Hunt, Mitchell Rein, Michael Weyman, Matt Prior, Ben Creagh, Dean Young. Interchange: Nathan Fien, Jeremy Latimore, Trent Merrin, Jack de Belin.

Past Stats: Over their 18-year existence, the Cowboys have the best head-to-head record against the Dragons, having just under fifty percent success rate against them. That percentage has been better in recent seasons although three successive victories for the Dragons has seen the visitors claim bragging rights between these two sides. The Dragons haven't travelled to Dairy Farmers since 2009, a venue where the Cowboys have won six of eight clashes between these two clubs.

Danger men: The Dragons have a number of players vying for a New South Wales sky blue jersey, with the man considered a certainty, Brett Morris being in outstanding form this season since moving to fullback in round four. Incumbent Blues five-eighth Jamie Soward has one final chance to press claims for the number six jersey, while Ben Creagh has a lot of competition for a second row position and will want to perform. Props Michael Weyman and Trent Merrin have slight chances to gain a bench spot and will be looking to get their hat in the ring before the selection process begins next week.

Barnesy's Bet: The St George Illawarra Dragons are coming intothe game rested and refreshed on the back of two wins and will be full of confidence, but their form at Dairy Farmers Stadium is an issue. The Cowboys will be looking to muscle-up in the early stages after their disastrous start last week and with Matt Scott likely to play, the home side should secure the two points this week. Look for a close match with golden point a real possibility. Matt Bowen, Ashley Graham and Brent Tate would be favourites for first try scorers for the home side while Brett Morris, Matt Cooper and Daniel Vidot are options for the visitors this week. Look for a betting margin of 1-12 and not a high scoring clash, points will be at a premium.

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