Saturday’s third NRL Round 24 match is between Nth Queensland Cowboys and New Zealand Warriors. The opening bounce is set to commence at 19:35 local time with the game to be played at 1300SMILES Stadium. The home team North Queensland Cowboys are the favourites for the match. View our preview and teams for the game between Nth Queensland Cowboys and New Zealand Warriors.
When: 19:35 | Saturday 20/08/2016
Where: 1300SMILES Stadium
Tip: North Queensland Cowboys at $1.23
Value Tip: First Try Scorer: Michael Morgan at $12.00
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Michael Morgan 7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Matthew Scott 9. Ray Thompson 10. James Tamou 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14. Rory Kostjasyn 15. Coen Hess 16. Scott Bolton 17. Patrick Kaufusi.
Warriors: 1 David Fusitu’a 2 Ken Maumalo 3 Blake Ayshford 4 Solomone Kata 5 Manu Vatuvei 6 Thomas Leuluai 7 Shaun Johnson 8 Jacob Lillyman 9 Jazz Tevaga 10 Albert Vete 11 Bodene Thompson 12 Ryan Hoffman (c) 13 Simon Mannering.
Interchange: 14 Nathaniel Roache 15 Sam Lisone 16 Ben Matulino 17 James Gavet 20 Bunty Afoa.
Skipper Johnathan Thurston has warned his North Queensland teammates they face a humiliating end to their NRL premiership defence if they don’t find form fast.
The Cowboys slumped to their third successive defeat to Sydney Roosters on Sunday, their worst losing streak since the opening three rounds last year.
The premiers sit on 28 points with three rounds to play, but their playoffs spot is yet to be confirmed given other results from round 23.
And if Canberra beat Melbourne on Monday night in the nation’s capital, the Cowboys will sit two wins adrift of fourth place with three regular season games remaining.
The Cowboys face a challenging road to the finals, which they will start by hosting the unpredictable Warriors before travelling to Belmore Sports Ground to face Canterbury the week after.
In the final round they’ll return to Townsville to meet Jarryd Hayne’s Gold Coast.
It wasn’t that long ago the Cowboys were considered top four certainties. But according to superstar Thurston they are struggling simply to make the finals after losing four of their last five games.
“Finals are the furthest thing from my mind,” he said.
“It is about getting confidence back. However we get it, we need it.
“Finals could be out the back door if we don’t fix it quickly.”
The loss of Jake Granville, who is could be out for another three weeks with a broken hand, hurt the Cowboys against the Roosters. Interchange prop Ben Hannant could also be sidelined for three more weeks.
But the Cowboys need more than just their grand-final-winning 17 together.
“We are not urgent enough or mentally tough enough, we need to be better,” Thurston said.
“We need to get around that quick. We need to fight our way of this hole we have dug ourselves, we need to have a look at ourselves.”
*Odds correct at time of posting. Subject to change