It doesn’t happen often in the NRL, but the North Queensland Cowboys keep defying the odds. They finished eighth when the season ended and have survived the sudden-death playoffs…. twice. And what is remarkable, is that they did that ‘without two of their biggest stars’ in Matt Scott and the mercurial, Jonathan Thurston.
The Cowboys will play the Sydney City Roosters in the second Grand Final playoff match, on Saturday night of the National Rugby League (NRL) competition. On Friday though, Melbourne Storm will take on the Brisbane Broncos. The winners from both games will face off in the Grand Finale next Sunday.
The mind games have begun though, in the clash at Allianz Stadium. The Cowboys making a shocking announcement earlier this week when they named Matt Scott on their extended bench. The star forward had seemed to be ruled out of the season, due to injury. And though it maybe a ploy, miracles do occur each year during the NRL Finals Series.
The North Queensland Cowboys are building on their mythology, with their rise from the lower places. So a ‘Lazarus act’ from Scott would not be out of place.
Every fan and rugby league pundit have their own favourite team. The NRL has run for 23 rounds, and two rounds of knock-out finals matches. The Roosters have shown good form to now, to land a place on the cusp of a final’s berth.
However, after this weekend only two teams will be left to fight out the final. LWOR have chosen the Cowboys to be their team this weekend as they continue to defy the odds.
North Queensland Cowboys Keep Defying the Odds
The Cowboys have fought tooth and nail to reach this weekend’s preliminary final playoffs. They’ve withstood the Panthers onslaught in the first sudden-death playoffs, winning by a mere point. Last weekend they outclassed Parramatta Eels.
All the players in their side have stood up with one man in particular playing some o the finest football ever seen from him. Jason Taumalolo will be the man-to-watch, as he can single-handedly take his side to the final.
— 7Sport (@7Sport) September 21, 2017
The side is carrying many injuries though, but they are fighting on. Like Matt Scott, it wont be surprise if he battles takes the field on Saturday. One of their in-form forwards Coen Hess, who is carrying an injury, isn’t going to relent now. He and Scott will take the field, with or without injury.
“I think we’ve had a lot of adversity in the team, a lot of guys have been playing with injuries now, so I think it’s just expected from each other that unless it is a very serious injury, that we just get along with the job and do it to the best of our ability.” Hess told nrl.com.
“Everyone wants to be playing finals footy, no one really wants to be sitting on the bench.”
“So I think it’s a lot of key factors that you want to stay out there and ride the rollercoaster with the team,” Hess said.
“You never know what might happen in a game, or what play might make a massive difference so I think it’s just turning up in case you’re needed not when you’re needed.”
Players to Watch: Roosters v Cowboys
Cowboys – From Jason Taumalolo to Michael Morgan, they have the fire power from all sides of the field.
— 7Sport (@7Sport) September 19, 2017
Coen Hess, together with Graig Cooper and Justin O’Neill will also be key big men to watch.
In the backline, Lachlan Coote, Ken Linnett and Antonio Winterstein will be vital in the backs.
Roosters – In a battle with Taumalolo, bruising forward Sio Siua Taukeiaho is a key weapon. On the other hand, Jared Warea-Hargraves is putting his hand up to say “I will stop Taumalolo”. An interesting three-way battle awaits for the Kiwi forwards; considering the Rugby League World Cup.
— 7Sport (@7Sport) September 20, 2017
Dylan Napa, Boyd Cordner and Aidan Guerra are also game changes, with Kane Evans coming off the bench. In the backs, Daniel Tupou, Mitchell Pearce and Blake Ferguson will be their biggest weapons.
Head coach Trent Robinson’s men have shown an ability to score early. So it might be a case of ‘withstanding a Cowboys resurgence’ late in the game. Hold on, and the Sydney team will be the flagship side, in the 2017 Grand Final.
Can the Cowboys Continue their Dream Run?
They have come this far and; many believe, they can go all the way. The crowd at the Allianz Stadium could be hostile but the Cowboys have what it takes to absorb the pressure and win. As the last Sydney-side, the Roosters will feel the pressure – the Cowboys have everything to gain.
LWOR are going for another close win by the Cowboys, even though the odds are against them. Not discounting the Roosters, but the heart can often overrule the head in the emotion of rugby league final’s matches.
Odds Favour Melbourne at Home in Opening Game
In the first playoff game Friday night, the Storm are the overwhelming favorites and LWOR couldn’t agree more. The Cooper Cronk/Billy Slater/Cameron Smith combination will be hard to contain, plus the finishing of Suliasi Vunivalu the ‘icing on the cake’.
Cooper Cronk will be playing his last game in Storm colours too, come Friday. The Storm side want to farewell him in style–many commentators saying that Melbourne seem to always perform on the big stage.
END OF AN ERA
— NRL (@NRL) September 21, 2017
Of course, Brisbane can be a party killer but with so many player changes, they are not the settled unit that the Storm have been all season.
NRL Finals Series: Week 3, Preliminary Finals
Friday – Melbourne Storm v Brisbane Broncos, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Saturday – Sydney Roosters v North Queensland Cowboys, Allianz Stadium, Sydney
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