Courtesy of sportal.com
Preview: Wests Tigers v Cowboys
Steve Orme, Sportal
VENUE & TIME: Leichhardt Oval, Sunday July 19, 3.00pm (AEST)
COVERAGE: Channel Nine
LAST TIME: Cowboys 42 - Tigers 14, at Dairy Farmers Stadium, Round 2, 2009.
WALKING WOUNDED: The Tigers have to wait one more week for the return of centre Dean Collis (forearm), while prop Keith Galloway (knee) is expected back on deck in a fortnight. Chris Heighington (leg) and Dene Halatau (knee) both face a further month on the sidelines. The Cowboys will be without the services of Luke O’Donnell for up to six weeks after the NSW forward suffered medial ligament damage against the Sharks. The news is even worse for hooker Aaron Payne who suffered a torn pectoral in the same match and will miss the rest of the season. Skipper Johnathan Thurston has taken the early guilty plea on his dangerous contact charge resulting from his feet-first tackle on David Williams. He is free to play provided his body holds up after a bruising Origin III, while his Maroons team-mates Willie Tonga and Matt Scott are also both expected to back up.
FORM: Tim Sheens finally had reason to smile following his side’s 10-try demolition of South Sydney. Unfortunately, it was only their second win in their previous nine outings and it would seem that pesky horse that is the NRL finals series has already bolted - again. The Cowboys did enough to defeat a committed Sharks side before the bye. But while they are well placed in fifth spot with eight rounds to go, they need to make significant strides if they hope to challenge for the premiership this season.
WHO’S HOT: Robbie Farah was a man on a mission against Cronulla after his shocker in Origin II. He had a hand in all but a couple of the Tigers’ 10 tries in easily his best performance of the year. Benji Marshall soldiered on despite suffering from a virus and looked much more comfortable back in the No.6 jumper. Thurston single-handedly steered the Cowboys to victory against the Sharks to once again show why he is regarded as the game’s most polished performer.
WE THINK: There’s no time like the present for the Tigers, another loss here and they can definitely start planning for next season. Much will depend on whether Thurston is available to back up, but with O’Donnell and Payne out of action the Cowboys’ supporting cast must also step up in order to collect the points. Look for Farah to play another dominant hand and lead the hosts to a narrow win. Tigers by six.
1. Shannon Gallant, 2. Taniela Tuiaki, 3. Blake Ayshford, 4. Chris Lawrence, 5. Beau Ryan, 6. Benji Marshall, 7. Tim Moltzen, 8. Bryce Gibbs, 9. Robbie Farah , 10. Todd Payten, 11. Gareth Ellis, 12. Danny Galea, 13. Corey Payne
Interchange: 14. Josh Morris, 15. Alan Shirnack, 16. John Skandalis, 17. Simon Dwyer
1. Matthew Bowen, 2. Michael Bani, 3. Ty Williams, 4. Willie Tonga, 5. John Williams, 6. Grant Rovelli, 7. Johnathan Thurston , 8. Shane Tronc, 9. Anthony Watts, 10. Matthew Scott, 11. Carl Webb, 12. Scott Bolton, 13. Steve Southern
Interchange: 14. Travis Burns, 15. Steve Rapira, 16. Antonio Kaufusi, 17. James Tamou, 18. Manase Manuokafoa