North Queensland Cowboys vs St George Illawarra Dragons NRL Tips, Predictions and Match Preview - Dragons unbeaten against Cowboys since 2016

Andrew Hendrie 13 Mar 2019
  • North Queensland Cowboys clash with St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 1 of the NRL on Saturday night
  • Dragons have won the last three games between the sides
Cowboys meet Dragons on Saturday

A new era begins in North Queensland on Saturday night as the Cowboys square off against St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 1 of the new NRL season.

Cowboys vs Dragons kicks off at 7.30pm AEST at 1300SMILES Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports in Australia.

Prediction

Match Preview


North Queensland start life without future immortal Johnathan Thurston on Saturday night when they play host to the Dragons.

It’s still tough to imagine the Cowboys without Thurston in their ranks, with the former superstar halfback becoming a legend of the game up north and transforming the club from NRL battlers to premiership winners.

However, you can also argue Thurston’s farewell season last year - when he was far from 100 per cent fit and not anywhere near his best - hurt the club and Michael Morgan, who guided the team to the Grand Final the previous season but couldn’t take charge of his team with Thurston still calling the shots.

It will be interesting to see if Morgan can recapture that form after what was essentially a gap year for the Cowboys last season, but with a forward pack as strong as theirs, he will surely have space to roam and create.

Meanwhile, the Dragons have been notorious for their strong starts to seasons over the last two years, including being top of the table across the first 11 rounds of last campaign.

Corey Norman’s arrival at the club allows him to re-unite with former Broncos teammate Ben Hunt in the halves, with Gareth Widdop shifting back to fullback in his last season with the club.

The Dragons also possess an extremely dangerous forward pack, led by James Graham and boasting current NSW Origin stars Paul Vaughan, Tyson Frizell and Tariq Sims.

Having won the last three games between the teams and with their sharpness at the start of the last two seasons, I make the Dragons out as favourites for this one. I’m not sure how the Cowboys are going to perform this season, and coming up against a very strong Dragons side in the opening round might prove a step too far.

Match Odds


North Queensland Cowboys - $1.80
St George Illawarra Dragons - $2.00

Stats


  • Dragons have won the last three games between the teams
  • Cowboys haven’t beaten Dragons since Round 5 of the 2016 season
  • This will be the Cowboys first season without Thurston since 2004

Teams


Cowboys: 1 Jordan Kahu 2 Javid Bowen 3 Justin O’Neill 4 Tom Opacic 5 Nene Macdonald 6 Te Maire Martin 7 Michael Morgan 8 Matt Scott 9 Jake Granville 10 Jordan McLean 11 Gavin Cooper 12 Coen Hess 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 John Asiata 15 Josh McGuire 16 Mitchell Dunn 17 Francis Molo. Reserves: 18 Ben Hampton 19 Jack Clifford 20 Gideon Gela-Mosby 21 Enari Tuala

Dragons: 1 Gareth Widdop 2 Jordan Pereira 3 Euan Aitken 4 Tim Lafai 5 Mikaele Ravalawa 6 Corey Norman 7 Ben Hunt 8 James Graham 9 Cameron McInnes 10 Paul Vaughan 11 Jacob Host 12 Tariq Sims 13 Tyson Frizell. Interchange: 14 Jeremy Latimore 15 Matt Dufty 16 Blake Lawrie 17 Luciano Leilua. Reserves: 18 Zac Lomax 19 Josh Kerr 20 Reece Robson 21 Jonus Pearson

Tips


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North Queensland Cowboys vs St George Illawarra Dragons NRL Tips, Predictions and Match Preview - Dragons unbeaten against Cowboys since 2016

A new era begins in North Queensland on Saturday night as the Cowboys square off against St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 1 of the new NRL season.

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