Canterbury Bulldogs and North Queensland Cowboys target their first win of the season when they face off in NRL Round 2 action on Thursday night.
Bulldogs vs Cowboys kicks off at 8.05pm AEDT at ANZ Stadium. The NRL game will be broadcast live on Channel 9 and Fox Sports in Australia.
After disappointing opening round defeats last weekend, the Bulldogs and Cowboys look to kick-start their 2020 season with two points on Thursday night to launch Round 2.
It will be the first match to be played behind closed doors as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on sporting competitions worldwide.
How players respond to no atmosphere will be interesting, but it’s better than not playing at all, so hopefully we still get some entertaining showdowns this weekend.
Canterbury were brave in defence during their 8-2 loss to Parramatta at Bankwest last week, but once again they struggled in attack and creating anything significant in opposition territory.
The Bulldogs had a great finish to 2019, winning five of their last six encounters, but the one match they lost was to their opponents on Thursday night.
North Queensland delivered an underwhelming performance to christen their brand new stadium in Townsville, falling to bitter rivals Brisbane by a 28-21 scoreline.
It looks close on paper, but the Cowboys were completely dominated in the middle of the park by Brisbane’s forward and will need to toughen up against Canterbury’s strong pack.
The two teams have split their last four meetings at two wins apiece, and this is really a toss-up at this stage of the season. In saying that, I’m fairly certain we won’t be seeing a lot of points scored between these two teams.
Just the one change to the Bulldogs side, with Jake Averillo coming onto the bench to make his NRL debut in place of Kerrod Holland, who’s picked up a knee injury.
Josh McGuire returns from suspensions for the Cowboys, pushing Corey Jensen out of the team and John Asiata back to the bench.
Bulldogs: 1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Nick Meaney 3. Reimis Smith 4. Will Hopoate 5. Christian Crichton 6. Brandon Wakeham 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Joe Stimson 13. Adam Elliott 14. Dean Britt 15. Renouf To’omaga 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17. Jake Averillo 19. Ofahiki Ogden 20. Morgan Harper 21. Sione Katoa 22. Jack Cogger
Cowboys: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Esan Marsters 5. Ben Hampton 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Michael Morgan 8. Josh McGuire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Reece Robson 15. John Asiata 16. Mitchell Dunn 17. Francis Molo 18. Corey Jensen 19. Shane Wright 20. Tom Opacic 21. Jake Clifford
– Bulldogs and Cowboys have split their last four meetings at two wins apiece
– Cowboys won their last clash 15-8 in R24 last year
– Their last three encounters have seen 37 or less points scored