By Stephen Gallagher
MATCH OF THE ROUND: ROUND 02 – North Queensland Cowboys V Melbourne Storm – Saturday, 1300 SMILES Stadium. 18.30 local time, 21.30 NZ time.
LAST WEEK: North Queensland took first round honours with a 24-12 victory over the Bulldogs.
Melbourne Storm started where they left off with a crushing 30-10 win against the Dragons.
THIS WEEK: North Queensland have secured their man for life. Johnathan Thurston signs a four year deal with the Cowboys that secures his future. The Cowboys will be thrilled with this, and their play on the field will reflect that. A simple game plan last week took everyone by surprise as they downed Canterbury Bankstown away from home. Being back at home will only improve their chances.
The Storm are a formidable opponent whether you play them at home, away or if they were suffering an injury crisis. They were tested up front last week and delivered when needed. The forward pack has upward momentum throughout and the substitution roles are playing in favour of these men. Slack is not a word they know.
WHAT TO EXPECT: The Cowboys to hit the ground running from the opening kick off. If they can control the game from the get go that limits the chances the opposition get. A solid forward pack who know their roles within the side will lead proudly in their home turf. The fitness on show last week was exceptional and at no point did they look tired. If this carries on in this match it will be tough to ware down the big men.
Melbourne are the benchmark. Any style of footy they play teams try their best to make it their own. This is going to be a slug out by them in order to start the season on a positive two from two note. The rookies have slotted in without much fuss and are killing it. A lighting quick three-quarter line has been the difference for Melbourne throughout the years and will once again prove tough.
THE BATTLE OF: Freakish Fullbacks! Matt Bowen was a little reserved last week but doesn’t need much to get him going. Once hampered by injury is now enjoying the twilight years of his career in sensational fashion.
Billy Slater is the best fullback in the world. Kids growing up play as him in their back yards. Slater ran for 132 metres and dotted down just once in a twenty-point romp last week. His skills can not be replicated and his form is just unbelievable. Give him in inch, he will take a mile.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Ashley Graham – Two tries last week, seems to be keeping in touch with his great try-scoring efforts of last season.
Lagi Setu – Poor by his standards last weekend, and has everything to prove his worth this week.
It’s a goodie on the cards, no doubt about it. Cowboys in a thriller. 26-22
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