MATCH UP STATS
Last five resultsNorth Queensland: W W L L WParramatta: L L L W W
The Cowboys made relatively short work of a brave but outclassed Newcastle Knights last weekend, with Kalyn Ponga crossing twice in a 24-12 win.
The result was much needed after consecutive defeats to Wests Tigers and St George-Illawarra, keeping them within a game of the top three.
Cowboys and Kangaroos fans alike are sweating on the fitness of Johnathan Thurston, who has been named as 18th man for Parramatta’s visit.
But North Queensland coach Paul Green made it clear this week that he would not “rush him back just so he can play a test match”.
“JT is a determined bloke, but it’s not about how determined he is. It’s about how fit he is,” Green said.
“He needs to convince us that he is fully fit before we consider him.”
Much like their hosts, Parramatta are on the recovery trail after enduring a funky patch of form.
Having started the season with strong wins against Manly and the high-flying Dragons, the Eels then copped a quartet of heavy losses to Gold Coast, Cronulla, Canberra and New Zealand.
Wins against the Tigers and the struggling Penrith Panthers have steadied the ship, but this week’s trip north is a different proposition altogether.
Making the task even trickier is the absence of any specialist halves.
Wests Tigers have refused to release Mitchell Moses for the rest of the season, Clint Gutherson is covering for the injured Bevan French at fullback, and now ring-in number six Brad Takairangi is out of action after hurting his knee in the win over Penrith.
That could mean Corey Norman and Kenny Edwards pairing up in the halves – a situation the latter is well prepared for.
“I’m comfortable and confident in whatever I do,” Edwards said.
“That’s the kind of person I am. I like to attack things at 100 per cent.
“And I’ll do that if need be, I’ll play five-eighth next week.”
First tryscorer markets
North Queensland – Kalyn Ponga
- First of the match – +1200 at Ladbrokes
- First for the Cowboys – +650 at Sportsbet
- Anytime tryscorer – +150 at Sportsbet
Gavin Cooper was first across the line in North Queensland’s win over Newcastle, but it was Ponga who really caught the eye. The 19-year-old went through twice in that game and impressed from whistle to whistle, so he will surely be among the chief threats again on Friday.
Parramatta – Semi Radrada
- First of the match – +750 at Sportsbet
- First for the Eels – +300 at CrownBet
- First or last try – +333 at CrownBet
As many good attacking players as the Eels have at their disposal, it is almost impossible to look past big Semi in the tryscorer betting. He is a powerful line-breaker who also has that happy knack of winding up in the right place at the right time – a very handy combination.
Cowboys vs. Eels exotic bets
North Queensland by 1-12 points – +200 at William Hill
The Cowboys should get it done against an undermanned Eels outfit, but we are not expecting a blowout. Take the lower of the main points-margin bets, which is paying slightly more than the 13+ option at most online bookmakers.
Over 44 total points scored – +150 at CrownBet
High scoring has been a common theme for both these sides in NRL 2017, with each playing in four games that have produced 40 points or more. Over 44 points seems a reasonable bet, while even braver punters can go for the 41-50 (+220) or 51-60 (+650) points bands at WilliamHill.com.au.
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