Topic: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium  

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Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« on: March 04, 2014, 01:07:58 PM »


Canberra Raiders V North QLD Cowboys
Round 1 - Saturday 8th March 2014
1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville QLD
NYC: 6:45pm AEDT/5:45pm QLD
NRL: 9pm AEDT/8pm QLD - Fox Sports
Tickets: Ticketek

Tuesday Team Lists
NRL: Raiders - Cowboys
Holden Cup: Raiders - Cowboys

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2014, 01:08:44 PM »
Stuart names two Raiders NRL debutants

New Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has named two debutants to take on North Queensland in their NRL season opener on Saturday, with Matt Allwood given the task of filling the boots of sacked star centre Blake Ferguson.

Allwood, 21, slots into a re-jigged backline courtesy of a Stuart shake-up, with Jack Wighton confirmed to make his first start at five-eighth.

"(Allwood) has got a lot of speed, he's defensively very strong and he's worked hard over the off-season," Stuart said.

The rejig means skipper Terry Campese will now don the No.7 jersey, while 2013 Mal Meninga Medallist Anthony Milford will retain his fullback duties.

Winger Edrick Lee has been named to make his first game back since breaking his arm last year, while Reece Robinson has scored the other wing spot.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old prop Shannon Boyd has been named on the bench to make his debut following injuries to frontline props David Shillington and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs.

Stuart admitted the rookie would face a a huge challenge when he lined up against Kangaroos props James Tamou and Matt Scott.

"It is a big task. We're playing against three or four world-class players in this Cowboys team," Stuart said.

"But I wouldn't put them in if I wasn't confident in them."

Halfback-turned-hooker Josh McCrone has been named on the bench behind No.9 Glen Buttriss, with Stuart confirming McCrone would come onto the field in the hooker role.

Raiders: Anthony Milford, Reece Robinson, Jarrod Croker, Matt Allwood, Edrick Lee, Jack Wighton, Terry Campese (capt), Dane Tilse, Glen Buttriss, Brett White, Josh Papalii, Joel Edwards, Shaun Fensom. Interchange: Josh McCrone, Jarrad Kennedy, Paul Vaughan, Shannon Boyd, Mark Nicholls (18th man).

More: http://au.rd.yahoo.com/sport/rss/rugbyleague/*http%3A//au.sports.yahoo.com/league/news/article/-/21810203/stuart-names-two-raiders-nrl-debutants/

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2014, 01:23:04 PM »
Raiders back Wighton in Thurston NRL clash

Canberra centre Jarrod Croker has backed new five-eighth Jack Wighton's strong defence to hold its own against the "world's best player" Johnathan Thurston in their NRL season opener on Saturday.

New Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has confirmed that Wighton - after impressing in the halves in the trials - will play against North Queensland in the No.6 jersey in Townsville, pushing skipper Terry Campese to halfback.

It means the 21-year-old, who has played 27 NRL games primarily at wing and centre, will undergo a baptism of fire in his new position when he fronts up against a big Cowboys forward pack that will pave the way for Thurston to wreak havoc.

While Croker admits Golden Boot holder Thurston is hands down the world's best player, he says one of Wighton's strongest assets is his size and strength in defence.

Wighton is a solid 90kg, while his halves partner Campese isn't too far behind most forwards at 102kg.

"(Thurston) is tough to shut down; it's easier said than done," Croker said.

"But Jacko in the halves there is a pretty strong defender, we all know that, so I don't think we're too worried about that.

"Our big boys have got to beat their big boys, and that will go a long way to slowing Thurston down."

Croker also tipped Campese to return to his attacking best in the season ahead following a hesitant 2013.

The 29-year-old former NSW Blues and Kangaroos representative received criticism from some quarters in his comeback season last year for not running the ball enough following two serious knee injuries.

"The way Campo has trained, I haven't seen him like this for years," Croker said.

"We know he's a devastating ball runner. When he runs the ball to the line, he just creates that much more opportunity for blokes around him."

However, Croker admitted it might take a few games for Campese to hit his stride.

"Not putting any pressure on him, I'm sure he'll be fine," Croker said.

"He's had a tough time of it, but hopefully we see the best of Campo."

More: http://wwos.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8808515

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2014, 01:27:49 PM »
New-look Cowboys NYC side for round 1

The NYC Cowboys will have four debutants in their starting 13 for the season-opening clash with the Canberra Raiders at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday evening.

There’s also the potential of another three Cowboys making their debut off the interchange bench with coach Todd Wilson naming a 19-man squad that he will reduce to 17 by game day.

It will be a completely new-look halves pairing for North Queensland with Delayne Ashby, who came to the Cowboys from the Sydney Roosters in the off-season, joining up with James Redman who is in his first year as an NYC squad member.

A junior with the Nightcliff Dragons in the Darwin competition, Redman played senior football in Townsville last year with Centrals Tigers.

The other run-on first gamers are hooker Josh Chudleigh from the Bungendore Tigers in Canberra and winger Rainer Power, a junior with the Bowen Seagulls and Burdekin Roosters who had his 2013 season ruined by a long-term foot injury.

The new faces of the bench are Fijian forward Viliame Kikau, who has played in each of the Cowboys’ pre-season trials; Sarina outside back Scott Schulte, in his second year in NQ’s under-20s program; and 18-year-old rookie Bill Cullen from the Calliope Roosters.

After playing almost exclusively in the No.6 jersey in 2013, Alex Grant has been named at fullback while NRL squad member Patrick Kaufusi will start at prop.

The round one squad was announced at a special team dinner on Monday night which also included Jack Kelleher being awarded the Cowboys’ 2014 captaincy with fellow final-year forward Corey Jensen as his deputy.

NYC North Queensland Toyota Cowboys v Canberra Raiders
5.45pm, Saturday 8 March, 1300SMILES Stadium

1 Alex Grant
2 Hayden Crowley
3 Lenny Magey
4 Samsen O’Neill
5 Rainer Power
6 James Redman
7 Delayne Ashby
8 Patrick Kaufusi
9 Josh Chudleigh
10 David Munro
11 Jack Kelleher (c)
12 Corey Jensen
13 Andrew Niemoeller

Interchange:
14 Dan Clarke
15 Kieran Quabba
16 Bill Cullen
17 Viliame Kikau
18 Halvor Harris
19 Scott Schulte

Coach: Todd Wilson.

Source: http://www.cowboys.com.au/news/2014/03/04/new_look_nyc_side_for_round_1.html

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2014, 01:32:09 PM »


Raiders NYC Team Announcement: Round 1

NYC: CANBERRA RAIDERS V NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
SATURDAY MARCH 8, 5.45PM (QLD TIME), 1300 SMILES STADIUM

Raiders NYC Coach Mick Mantelli has named an exciting new-look side for the season opener against the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday afternoon at 1300 Smiles Stadium.

Several of the playmaking positions within the team were up for grabs after last year’s maestro’s Jack Ahearn and Mitch Cornish progressed through to the NRL squad.

This has enabled the likes of Ricky Garard, Matt Frawley and Andrew Heffernan to take over the reins of the side after their impressive efforts in the pre-season and in the trials.

Garard has previously been used as a hooker off the interchange bench to quicken the tempo of play with his acceleration, agility and ball skills but now gets his chance in his favoured position of fullback after a pre-season in which the strength and conditioning staff at the club have been continually blown away with his progress.

Frawley and Heffernan were also a part of last year’s line-up however they featured at hooker and centre respectively.

They now get their opportunity to showcase their playmaking talents and ability to guide the side around the park.

Heffernan, along with Luke Bateman, Brenko Lee and Patrick Mago are set to be pivotal members of the team after the quintet spent a portion of the pre-season gaining experience with the NRL squad.

Lee will be particularly fired up for a big performance after he was marginally ousted by Matt Allwood for the left centre position in the NRL line-up.

Blockbusting duo Bateman and Mago will share the captaincy duties and make up an imposing back-row which also includes Jared McIlwrick, brother of NRL player Matt.

The full team line-up is:

1.      Ricky Garard

2.      Leu Saipani

3.      Brenko Lee

4.      Jack Creith

5.      Lachlan Hurst

6.      Matt Frawley

7.      Andrew Heffernan

8.      Mitchell Shaw

9.      Trent Schubach

10.   Mitchell Barnett

11.   Patrick Mago ©

12.   Jared McIlwrick

13.   Luke Bateman ©


14.   Josh Baker

15.   Jules Webley

16.   Brett Solomon

17.   Thoren Fidow-Kele

18.   Dylan McGrath


Coach: Mick Mantelli

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2014, 01:45:41 PM »
Allwood and Boyd set to make NRL debut

The Canberra Raiders have named two rookies in their round one team to take on North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday night, with Matt Allwood and Shannon Boyd included in the 18 players to play the Cowboys.

Allwood will definitely start for the Raiders at right centre, while Boyd will start from the interchange bench.

The Raiders have a new look halves pairing to begin the new season with skipper Terry Campese moving to halfback, while Jack Wighton gets his first opportunity to play at five-eighth at NRL level after a successful time in the six jersey as a junior.

Edrick Lee makes a return to the NRL team after missing the majority of last season with a broken arm, while Glen Buttriss will start the match at hooker and Josh McCrone will come from the bench.

Mark Nicholls is 18th man.


CANBERRA RAIDERS V NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
SATURDAY MARCH 8, 8.00PM (QLD TIME), 1300 SMILES STADIUM

1.       Anthony Milford

2.       Reece Robinson

3.       Jarrod Croker

4.       Matt Allwood

5.       Edrick Lee

6.       Jack Wighton

7.       Terry Campese (C)

8.       Dane Tilse

9.       Glen Buttriss

10.   Brett White

11.   Josh Papalii

12.   Joel Edwards

13.   Shaun Fensom


14.   Josh McCrone

15.   Jarrad Kennedy

16.   Paul Vaughan

17.   Shannon Boyd

18.   Mark Nicholls


Coach: Ricky Stuart

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2014, 01:52:09 PM »
Cowboys warned Raiders like it hot

The Canberra Raiders plan to snap their eight-year losing streak in Townsville during their season-opening clash with the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night.

Rather than wilt when taking on the Cowboys in the expected heat, the Raiders believe the encounter at 1300 SMILES Stadium is their the best chance of breaking through at the venue since 2006.

If they do prevail, it would also be the first victory for any of the Raiders' squad in Townsville and just their second first-round triumph in six years.

Rookie five-eighth Jack Wighton has a massive test in taking on Cowboys magician Johnathan Thurston, while debutant Matthew Allwood is filling the right-centre spot vacated by Blake Ferguson.

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/north-queensland-cowboys-warned-canberra-raiders-like-it-hot-20140303-340mw.html#ixzz2uxV1Htcn

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2014, 02:01:19 PM »
Cowboys braced for Ricky's injury-hit Canberra pack

Test prop Matt Scott says his Cowboys are braced for a physical onslaught from an injury-hit Canberra pack that Ricky Stuart will have bristling to prove a point in their NRL opener.

The Raiders are missing State of Origin front-rowers David Shillington and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs but Scott expects an almighty stoush up front in Townsville on Saturday night.

North Queensland's co-captain predicted Canberra coach Stuart will have his new team fired up to bash the highly-rated Cowboys pack and take them down a peg.

"That will be their main focus, taking us on through the middle," Scott said on Wednesday.

"We have a quality pack that gets talked about a lot also so I'd say that will be used as motivation and that's where big teams like to roll forward."

Scott dismissed the loss of his Queensland teammate Shillington and Blues prop Learoyd-Lahrs as a worry to the visitors.

He well remembers the Raiders' physicality in last season's 26-18 loss in Canberra, when the home side ran up an 18-0 halftime lead as Josh Papalii starred.

"They're missing a couple of their more experienced front-rowers but they still have a massive pack that's played a lot of good footy," Scott said.

"Brett White and (Dane) Tilse are really good front-rowers and they're the guys who did the damage the last time we played them down there.

"I think they're very under-rated players. It's a very hard-working but big pack so it's a good challenge for us first up."

Scott revealed he, fellow Kangaroos prop James Tamou and other leading Cowboys forwards had vowed to shake off the defensive inconsistencies of recent seasons.

"We've spoken about working as a unit and trying to dominate games up the middle of the field," he said.

"That's something we've got to be more consistent at but we certainly have the talent to do so, we just have to do it.

"It's mainly a defensive focus. Defence is the area we have to improve the most."

Scott tipped talented second-rower Jason Taumalolo, who has forced Tariq Sims out of the starting pack, to come into his own this season.

More: http://wwos.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8809715

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2014, 02:06:32 PM »
Cowboys round 1 team to take on Raiders:

1 Michael Morgan
2 Kyle Feldt
3 Brent Tate
4 Kane Linnett
5 Antonio Winterstein
6 Johnathan Thurston (c)
7 Robert Lui
8 Matt Scott (c)
9 Ray Thompson
10 James Tamou
11 Gavin Cooper
12 Jason Taumalolo
13 Joel Riethmuller

Interchange:
14 Rory Kostjasyn
15 Tariq Sims
16 Glenn Hall
17 Scott Bolton
18 Ashton Sims
19 Zac Santo

More: http://www.triplem.com.au/sydney/sport/nrl/news/2014/3/nrl-team-list-round-one-2014/

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2014, 02:12:27 PM »
NRL Round 1 Preview: North Queensland Cowboys v Canberra Raiders

North Queensland Cowboys host Canberra Raiders on Saturday in Round 1 of the NRL. The match starts at 9pm (AEDT)

What: NRL round one
Who: North Queensland Cowboys v Canberra Raiders
When: Saturday, March 8 – 9pm (AEDT)
Where: 1300SMILES Stadium
I can watch it on: Fox Sports

Things you need to know:
Michael Morgan will play his first NRL match at fullback, handed the reins due to Lachlan Coote's anterior cruciate ligament injury. Ray Thompson wins the hooking role, with Rory Kostjasyn to come off the bench, while Jason Taumalolo has beat out Glenn Hall to a starting spot in the back-row. Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has named two debutants with Matt Allwood to start in the centres while Shannon Boyd is on a five-man bench. Jack Wighton will partner skipper Terry Campese in the halves, with Josh McCrone to come off the bench.

Reason to watch:
There aren't a massive number of great playmakers in the game anymore but Johnathan Thurston certainly is one of those. The classy pivot with the unmistakable laugh can do some extraordinary things on the football field and the Cowboys are as close to a one-man team as you can get. In other words, if JT gets injured they can't win the comp. Will also be worth keeping an eye on the new Raiders boss Stuart, with a lot expected of Canberra's favourite son after he walked out on Parramatta after one season and the wooden spoon.

Reason to turn away:
With both clubs having new coaches at the helm, they are likely to be a bit rusty in the early rounds. The humid and dewy conditions in Townsville at this time of the year are rarely conducive to free-flowing, attacking football which means it could be a real up-the-middle, boring slogfest for 80 minutes

Say what:
"My first day at training I made the comment it feels like I have changed clubs. There was that much of a difference. We have a new start, new coach, some new staff and a really fresh approach. It feels like everyone is on the same page this year, as a squad. I don't think I have felt that purpose over the last couple of years. If we can really buy into what (new coach Paul Green) has taught us and stick to our game plans, it's an exciting time for the Cowboys." – Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott.

Final word:
In a tough first round of matches to predict, this is arguably the most clear-cut fixture of the weekend. The Cowboys should be full of confidence after a brilliant end to 2013 which they carried on into the pre-season by winning the inaugural Auckland Nines tournament, where they crushed the Raiders on the way to the title. They are always hard to beat at home and should have little trouble in seeing off Canberra, especially if they are to be genuine title contenders. Cowboys by 12

Source: http://www.sportal.com.au/league/nrl-premiership/nrl-round-1-preview-north-queensland-cowboys-v-canberra-raiders/1rc4c6ipr9zkd1lyc5fdtbloiu

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2014, 02:33:59 PM »
NYC Match Preview: Round 1

CANBERRA RAIDERS V NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
SATURDAY MARCH 8, 5.45PM (QLD TIME), 1300 SMILES STADIUM

Raiders NYC Coach Mick Mantelli is expecting the quartet of players that spent the pre-season training with the NRL squad to lead the way forward for his new-look side in their Round 1 clash with the North Queensland Cowboys.

Andrew Heffernan, Brenko Lee and Co-Captains Luke Bateman and Patrick Mago all spent a portion of the pre-season training with the NRL squad and Mantelli believes that each player has developed remarkably in regards to their professionalism and leadership capabilities as a result.

With a lot of fresh faces in the line-up, it is imperative that the quartet lead the way forward and set an example for their younger team mates to ensure that the Green Machine continues their consistently high standard in the NYC.

“Training with the NRL squad has done those players a world of good and they have come back to be leaders of this side,” Mantelli said. “We will definitely look for them to lead the way but we’re also looking for the younger members of the team to step up and take the place of the departed players from last year.”

Read more: http://www.raiders.com.au/news/2014/03/06/nyc_match_preview_round_1.html

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2014, 02:35:59 PM »
Preview: NYC Cowboys v Raiders

NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v CANBERRA RAIDERS – NYC

MATCH DETAILS
Date: 5.45pm, Saturday 8 March
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium
Live updates: twitter.com/nthqldcowboys
Referee: Tim Rutherford
Touch judges: Belinda Sleeman, Chris Nitsopoulos
Main game: 8pm

TEAMS

COWBOYS: 1 Alex Grant, 2 Hayden Crowley, 3 Lenny Magey, 4 Samsen O’Neill, 5 Rainer Power, 6 James Redman, 7 Delayne Ashby, 8 Patrick Kaufusi, 9 Josh Chudleigh, 10 David Munro, 11 Jack Kelleher (c), 12 Corey Jensen, 13 Andrew Niemoeller. Interchange: 14 Dan Clarke, 15 Kieran Quabba, 16 Bill Cullen, 17 Viliame Kikau, 18 Halvor Harris, 19 Scott Schulte.

RAIDERS: 1. Ricky Garard 2. Leu Saipani 3. Brenko Lee 4. Jack Creith 5. Lachlan Hurst 6. Matt Frawley 7. Andrew Heffernan 8. Mitchell Shaw 9. Trent Schubach 10. Mitchell Barnett 11. Patrick Mago 12. Jared McIlwrick 13. Luke Bateman. Interchange: 14. Josh Baker 15. Jules Webley 16. Brett Solomon 17. Thoren Fidow-Kele 18. Dylan McGrath.

TURNING BACK THE CLOCK: The Cowboys stormed home last year with a seven-game winning streak, giving Todd Wilson’s squad a finals chance before two losses to end the season left them in 10th place overall. Meanwhile, the Raiders finished as the minor premiers before being eliminated in the preliminary final by Penrith.

RECENT HEAD-TO-HEAD: There were two narrow wins for Canberra last season – 18-14 in Townsville and 34-32 in Canberra where a late conversion attempt that hit the post cost the underdog Cowboys a draw.

FORM GUIDE: The Cowboys’ final trial a fortnight ago was washed out, but prior to that they downed the Mackay Cutters’ Intrust Super Cup team and the Herbert River Crushers’ A-grade squad after starting off with a narrow loss to Northern Pride. This is their first game against NYC opposition this year. Meanwhile, the Raiders lost 28-26 to Melbourne and 32-26 against Newcastle.

KEY STAT: These two teams ended up with amazingly similar defensive records last year, with the Raiders conceding 614 points and the Cowboys 615. However, in attack, Canberra scored a massive 765 points to NQ’s 582.

WHO’S NEW FOR NQ: The Cowboys will have four debutants in their starting team – winger Rainer Power, halves James Redman and Delayne Ashby and hooker Josh Chudleigh. There are another three potential first gamers on the bench – Bill Cullen, Viliame Kikau and Scott Schulte.

CAPTAIN COWBOY: Townsville’s Jack Kelleher, in his third year of under-20s footy, will run out as the Cowboys’ NYC captain for the first time, with Corey Jensen as his deputy. “It was definitely an honour to be chosen and I’m determined that we will have a big year,” Kelleher said.

COWBOY TO WATCH: Big “Billy” Kikau threatens to be a real crowd favourite thanks to his speed and tackle busting abilities which are unmatched in the North Queensland squad. He’s still pretty raw but could develop into a real weapon as the year progresses.

OUR OPPONENTS THIS WEEK: Several of the playmaking positions within the Raiders team were up for grabs after Jack Ahearn and Mitch Cornish progressed through to the NRL squad. This has enabled the likes of Ricky Garard, Matt Frawley and Andrew Heffernan to take over the reins of the side after their impressive efforts in the pre-season and in the trials.

THE RAIDERS’ DANGER: Queensland Junior Origin rep Brenko Lee will be particularly fired up for a big performance after he was marginally ousted by Matt Allwood for the left centre position in the NRL lineup. He was named in last year’s NYC Team of the Year.

THE FINAL SAY – COWBOYS COACH TODD WILSON

The pre-season is over and it’s time for our Cowboys round 1 NYC team to make the most of their opportunity.

With a blend of NYC experience and several debutants, it’s a new-look side that will be aiming to get the season off to a positive start at home.

We’ve had a strong emphasis on defensive structures and attitude over the past few months and this will be tested against the Raiders’ attacking weapons come Saturday.

With a focus around ball security and field position, it will be up to our playmakers to build pressure through a smart and effective kicking game.

Our boys are keen to get the season underway and the first game is guaranteed to provide plenty of rugby league entertainment.

Looking forward to seeing our members and fans there!

Source: http://www.cowboys.com.au/news/2014/03/05/match_preview_nyc_cowboys_v_raiders.html

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2014, 02:40:10 PM »
Cowboys v Raiders Preview
1300SMILES Stadium
Saturday 8pm (local)

Two new coaches, two vastly different rosters and expectations at either end of the spectrum make for a fascinating first hit-out for the Cowboys and Raiders.

Since arriving at Townsville on the back of two Intrust Super Cup titles and an NRL premiership as an assistant at the Roosters, new Cowboys mentor Paul Green has barely put a foot wrong. Two impressive trial performances book-ended the club's first piece of significant silverware – the inaugural Auckland Nines – and despite limited time with his World Cup stars over the pre-season he appears to have ingrained a harder edge to the Cowboys' normally free-flowing style of play.

The long-term injury to Lachlan Coote suffered at the Nines threatened to derail the new spine before it had even been set but then Green gave Michael Morgan a shot at fullback in the final trial and stumbled upon the perfect solution.

Twelve months after starting the season as one of the competition elects and then subsequently losing nine of their first 13 games, Green is endeavouring to show his players what it takes to win on a consistent basis and make good on the promises their talent should be able to deliver.

Adding further intrigue to the contest is the newest addition to Green's coaching staff, assistant coach David Furner, who will be able to impart intimate knowledge on the inner workings of the boys from Canberra.

Of course, things look different in the nation's capital also with Ricky Stuart returning to the lime green to try to restore order to a club that was beset by on and off-field dramas throughout 2013.

Infamous rooftop buddies Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson were both jettisoned before the end of the season while the club had to fight tooth and nail to get one more year out of Anthony Milford before he is due to join the Broncos.

But it is a much happier Canberra camp that starts the 2014 season and with the blend of exciting talents in Milford, Josh Papalii, Jack Wighton and Edrick Lee, tough older heads up front and Terry Campese finally ready to start a season injury-free, Stuart has the tools to extract a year that finishes in finals football from his men.

Watch Out Cowboys: Plenty of questions will be asked regarding the character of Anthony Milford dependent upon how he approaches what is supposed to be his final year at Canberra. Will he light up the NRL and repay the faith shown in a club that signed him as a 16-year-old or be distracted by a future that lies north of the border?

We'll get out first indicator on Saturday night and it could be the Cowboys who must deal with the consequences. In 18 top grade games last year Milford scored nine tries and made 12 line breaks and took that form to the World Cup with Samoa where he had 30 tackle breaks, five line breaks and 11 offloads, as well as scoring one of the tries of the tournament.

Wherever he pops up on the field, it will be a genuine test of the Cowboys' new defenseive structures.

Watch Out Raiders: It won't matter whether they look left or right, the Raiders are going to have a hard time keeping their edge defence in one piece with Tariq Sims and Jason Taumalolo ready to cut loose.

Although Green has the experience of Gavin Cooper and Glenn Hall to call on in the back row, the pre-season form of both Sims and Taumalolo makes their claims for a starting spot almost undeniable. After a stop-start beginning to his NRL career, Taumalolo appears ready to make good on his enormous potential despite the fact he is not due to turn 21 until May 30. He was a one-man wrecking machine in their trial win over the Broncos and scored a try from a deft Johnathan Thurston short ball against the Titans.

A World Cup with his brothers, Ashton and Korbin, and an injury-free pre-season has Tariq Sims poised to push for an Origin debut in 2014 after two outstanding trial performances and playing a key role in the Cowboys' Nines victory.

It has the potential to be a one-two punch unmatched in the NRL.

Plays To Watch: The plays in which they structure around the powerful edge runners on both sides; Papalii for the Raiders and Sims and Taumalolo for the Cowboys. When Thurston went to the line and passed short for Taumalolo the Titans barely got a hand on him while the threat of Papalii on the right will be enhanced by the presence of Milford sweeping around the back. Expect the playmakers from both sides to go short early and test the defence but the set plays they have out the back as options later in the game will determine who makes the greatest inroads.

Where It Will Be Won: Despite their differing positions on the final ladder last year, little separated these two in many of the key defensive statistics, except one: the Cowboys conceded 18 points per game while the Raiders leaked 26. The Cowboys proved by shutting out the Warriors in their Auckland Nines semi-final win that Green's work at the defensive end is paying immediate dividends while conceding 34 points against the Knights in Tamworth was a sign there is more work to be done by Stuart's green machine.

Expect to see a much more composed and controlled Cowboys outfit in 2014 and Green will be desperate to see it start with an exemplary defensive display in Round 1.

The History: Played 32; Cowboys 13, Raiders 19. Prior to their Round 17 win last year, the Raiders had lost nine of their previous 11 meetings with the Cowboys. The Raiders have not beaten the Cowboys in Townsville since a Todd Carney field goal gave Canberra a 15-14 victory in Round 12, 2006.

What Are The Odds: No takers for the Raiders who at $3.50 with Sportsbet.com.au are at the biggest odds of any side to win in Round 1. Cowboys have been heavily backed into $1.30.

Match Officials: Referees – Gavin Badger and Brett Suttor; Sideline Officials – Dan Eastwood and Peter Gough; Video Referees  – Bernard Sutton and Paul Mellor.

Televised: Fox Sports – Live 9pm (AEDT).

The Way We See It: At home in 30-degree temperatures and with an almost perfect pre-season build-up under their belts, it is hard to see anything but a Cowboys victory. With David Shillington injured Canberra are missing some firepower up front to match Test front-rowers Matt Scott and James Tamou and all indications are that Johnathan Thurston is ready to carry his World Cup form into 2014. Cowboys by 16 points.   

Source: http://www.nrl.com/cowboys-v-raiders-preview/tabid/10874/newsid/76588/default.aspx

Archie

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2014, 12:20:11 PM »
Thurston, Morgan face a nervous night against the Raiders

If you think Johnathan Thurston is nervous before his rematch with Josh Papalii's Canberra in Townsville on Saturday night, spare a thought for his North Queensland teammate Michael Morgan.

Thurston may be one of the world's best players but he will be forgiven for running out an anxious man in the Cowboys' season opener after Papalii all but promised a repeat of his battering of the North Queensland pivot from last year.

Raiders wrecking-ball Papalii crushed Queensland colleague Thurston to set up Canberra's round 17 win the last time the two teams met.
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While Papalii has not backed down this week from repeating the punishment in the season opener, Morgan would arguably be the North Queensland player sweating most on Saturday night.

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/johnathan-thurston-michael-morgan-face-a-nervous-night-against-the-canberra-raiders-in-the-nrl-20140307-34czu.html#ixzz2vKVv9N2Q

Archie

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Re: Round 1 - Raiders vs Cowboys @ 1300 Smiles Stadium
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2014, 12:21:44 PM »
Papalii set to bring down Cowboys

Three months ago, Josh Papalii and North Queensland's stars were teammates, helping steer Australia to a dominant World Cup final win over New Zealand.

Now the education and advice provided to 21-year-old Papalii by Cowboys Matt Scott, James Tamou and Johnathan Thurston, could come back to bite them.

Papalii said the World Cup tour had accelerated his development.

''I've come back with a lot of confidence and experience, spending a lot of time with the veterans and the great players up there,'' Papalii said.

''I've learnt a lot and I've taken it back to Canberra. Not only are the North Queensland boys crucial for their club but also their country, I was feeding off how they play and train.''

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/canberra-raiders-josh-papalii-set-to-bring-down-north-queensland-cowboys-20140307-34clc.html#ixzz2vKWMJplP