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Friday 18 September 10:00

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NRL ROUND 19

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS VS PENRITH PANTHERS

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 18, 6 PM, QUEENSLAND COUNTRY BANK STADIUM, TOWNSVILLE

Penrith’s chocolate soldiers continue marching through a historically good season, and looked a class above Parramatta last Thursday, despite some incredible defending from the Eels, as they smothered them 20-2.  Just how good is this Penrith side, one may ask? No team has gone through the regular season losing just 1 game since 1959, which Penrith are on the cusp of doing, incredible achievement! The Cowboys showed some fight against the Melbourne outfit that is destined for a strong showing in the Finals also, which was encouraging without stalwarts such as Taumalolo and Hess, as well as Morgan, but will need to lift to a much higher level if they are to wow their fans in Townsville and record what would be a stunning upset.  Windy weather awaits in the north as cyclone season looms, with dry and decent temperatures awaiting the players and what should be a decent crowd, at the premier new venue.

Superstar Lock, Jason Taumalolo is a chance of greeting the Panthers Forwards with his trademark runs, as he will have a fitness test to pass on game-day, and been named in the reserves.  Roma product Condon would probably drop out of the 17 if Taumalolo returns, with Jensen moving back to the bench.  McGuire is suspended again in a troubling part of his game, and replaced by Jensen, which also sees Molo move to Lock, while O’Neill is once again moved out of the side in favour of Taulagi.  Pere moves onto the bench as Asiata is also unavailable after picking up a suspension, while favourite son Cooper has moved to the starting side ahead of Gilbert.  Api Koroisau is rested after a concussion in the Eels win, replaced by Kenny, while Tamou and Tetevano did not make the hike north for this game, affording Leota, Capewell and Hetherington trips into the Sunshine state.

The Cowboys have not been able to muster a win this year against any of the top 4 sides, which is the main obstacle they need to overcome in this match if they are to succeed.  Penrith do not have a good record in trips to the far north, having one just 1 from their last 7, and indeed the Cowboys went close to upsetting them back in July, when Penrith eventually won 22-10, in the last game of Green’s glorious tenure at North Queensland.  Penrith are handicapped at -14.5 for this game, with the short odds of $1.15, leaving the Cowboys at $5.50 and little chance given to them by the bookies.  Given the fact that Penrith decided to leave Tamou at home the Cowboy Forwards may fancy their chances of rolling over the top of them, especially if Taumalolo is present, still an upset is highly unlikely.

PREDICTION: Penrith by around 12.

BETTING TIP: $3.10 is nice odds if you think the Cowboys can hold Penrith to a 1-12 margin win.