Cowboys v Storm preview

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North Queensland Cowboys v Melbourne Storm Sunday 4:05pm at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville / Wulgurukaba

North Queensland Cowboys desperately needing to find a season lifeline, coming up against the all-too-good Melbourne Storm. 

The Storm travel north to play the Cowboys at home, where they have won five of seven of their home games so far this season. 

North QLD have had a rough season so far, winning only five games to eight losses, missing much of the incredible form that nearly got them into a grand final last year. The Cowboys are currently the worst defensive side, where they have missed 489 tackles and sit on a points differential of -90, if they have any hopes of making the finals this year, it's time to turn their form and season around.

Melbourne sits on equal number of points with the Panthers, Sharks and Broncos; all sitting in the top four of the ladder, although their differential is the lowest of the four. They are coming fresh of a bye and will be looking to take victory against another Queensland team, after previously beating both the Dolphins and Broncos.  

The Cowboys have named Maroons 18th man, Tom Dearden at five eighth, also naming the other Maroons reps, Val Holmes, Murray Taulagi and Reuben Cotter in the reserves pending what happens at the Origin opener. Jeremiah Nanai is returning to the bench after a four-match suspension, and Jason Taumalolo is also listed among the reserves after suffering a knee injury during Round 7. Ex Raiders player, Semi Valemei, is making his club debut, replacing Robert Derby on the wing. 

Fellow Maroons stars, Cameron Munster and Harry Grant, have been named in the starting 17 for the Storm side. The team will be facing the Cowboys with the same starting side that defeated the Dolphins, despite Eliesa Katoa injuring his shoulder during the match. 

Melbourne have won 12 of their past 13 games against North Queensland, which includes the 2017 Grand Final victory. 

Last meeting: Round 11 2022 - Cowboys 36 Storm 6

Who to watch: Currently leading the Cowboys side in try assists, Scott Drinkwater provides a spark to the team. Although sometimes struggling in defence, Drinkwater creates many attacking opportunities for the Cowboys, and it'll be interesting what he does on Sunday afternoon. 

Harry Grant is second-to-best with dummy half runs with a total of 72. Constantly injecting himself into the game and backing up game after game with a full 80 minutes, Grant is a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully he'll back up and play after Game I of Origin, and see what magic he'll bring out of the bag. 

Favourite: The Storm are expected to add another 2 points to the ladder in their favour. 

My tip: Depending on who backs up from Origin, it could be a really close game between the two if the Cowboys turn up and really put some pressure on Melbourne. It'll be quite an interesting match, but I think the Storm will prevail and end up winning in the end. Melbourne by 8.

1. Scott Drinkwater 5. Semi Valemei 4. Peta Hiku 22. Valentine Holmes 24. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Coen Hess 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Heilum Luki 13. Jake Granville 15. Jeremiah Nanai 16. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 17. Griffin Neame 23. Reuben Cotter 2. Kyle Feldt

1. Nick Meaney 2. William Warbrick 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 10. Christian Welch 9. Harry Grant 16. Tui Kamikamica 11. Trent Loiero 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Josh King 8. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 14. Bronson Garlick 15. Aaron Pene 17. Grant Anderson 18. Tyran Wishart

Referees: Peter Gough; Sideline Officials: Belinda Sharpe, Michael Wise; Video Referees: Adam Gee;

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