THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
North Queensland Cowboys v Penrith Panthers
Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7.30pm
Cowboys $1.60, Panthers $2.40 (Sportsbet)
Cowboys: Matt Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Willie Tonga, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Ray Thompson, Ben Jones, Matt Scott (c), Aaron Payne, Ashton Sims, Gavin Cooper, Tariq Sims, Dallas Johnson. Interchange (from): James Segeyaro, Glenn Hall, Cory Paterson, James Tamou, Leeson Ah Mau
Panthers: David Simmons, Ryan Walker, Michael Jennings, Brad Tighe, Adrian Purtell, Harry Seijka, Luke Walsh, Tim Grant, Kevin Kingston, Petero Civoniceva (c), Trent Waterhouse, Nigel Plum, Luke Lewis. Interchange: Sam McKendry, Dayne Weston, Nathan Smith, Matthew Bell
Travis Burns is out with a broken hand and Penrith will miss his input dearly. Their form has been very inconsistent of late and they could really use their regular halves combination to steady the ship. The Panthers would have taken a lot out of their clash with Manly last week having pretty much matched the 2nd placed Sea Eagles all over the park which is no easy feat.
Petero Civoniceva has signed with the Broncos for next year and with his contract negotiations out of the way, expect him to have a big first 20 minutes as the Penrith side looks to get on top of their opposition early.
The Cowboys came away with a win against the cellar dwelling Titans last week and I can see where they miss Johnathan Thurston. The Cowboys were a bit too frantic in attack with no player controlling the tempo of the ruck area when they are midfield. Matt Bowen only seems to take over proceedings once the Cowboys penetrate the opposition 20. In defence it’s the opposite with too many sets of six being spent standing still and letting the opposition come to them. At one point they conceded a try in a set that was hit up solely by players from the Titans backline. If one backline player makes easy metres, it simply encourages the others to go looking for the ball and subsequently easy metres. The Cowboys will need to stamp this out early to crush the Panthers enthusiasm.
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Starting Bank: $2000, Current Bank $2476.19
(Team lists sourced from nrl.com.au)