Despite a large number of NRL clubs moving north for at least the month, it's still business as usual for the Roosters who were set to play the Cowboys in Townsville regardless - but they'll no doubt face a stiff challenge against a desperate North Queensland side who have been on the wrong end of the scoreboard for the last month.
Recent History: Sydney Roosters vs North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday night will mark the 41st match between the Roosters and Cowboys since North Queensland entered the competition in 1995, with the Tricolours taking victory in 28 of those, as well as seven of the last ten encounters.
This of course includes the Round 10 victory at Suncorp Stadium in Magic Round, where James Tedesco put on a show to guide Easts to a 30-16 victory in what was certainly an entertaining contest.
July has been a tough month for both clubs, with the Roosters suffering consecutive defeats to ladder leaders the Melbourne Storm and Penrith Panthers, but bounced back in Round 17 in a scrappy affair against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs as they look to gain a swing of momentum heading into the finals.
North Queensland have had a miserable time since their bye in Round 13, losing all four games whilst conceding an average of 40 points - and will be fired up and intending to re-write recent history as they return to their home ground for the first time in three weeks.
How They Line Up
Trent Robinson's line up will see a handful of changes made to the one that claimed victory last round.
Skipper James Tedesco returns at fullback, joined by veterans Daniel Tupou and Josh Morris. Joseph Manu reverts back to centre after filling in for Tedesco, while Matt Ikuvalu retains his spot on the wing following a strong performance against the Bulldogs.
Drew Hutchison and Sam Walker reprise their role in the halves, with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Sam Verrills and Isaac Liu named in the front row.
The returning Angus Crichton takes his place in the back row alongside Sitili Tupouniua, while Victor Radley will wear the no.13 jersey once again to round off the starting side.
Fullback for Cowboys is number 3 Hamiso Tabuai-FidowFullback for Roosters is number 4 Joseph Manu
Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle FeldtWinger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Connelly LemueluCentre for Roosters is number 3 Josh Morris
Centre for Cowboys is number 19 Javid BowenCentre for Roosters is number 19 Billy Smith
Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Murray TaulagiWinger for Roosters is number 5 Matt Ikuvalu
Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Scott DrinkwaterFive-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Drew Hutchison
Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Tom DeardenHalfback for Roosters is number 7 Sam Walker
Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Francis MoloProp for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece RobsonHooker for Roosters is number 9 Sam Verrills
Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLeanProp for Roosters is number 10 Isaac Liu
2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Shane Wright2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Sitili Tupouniua
2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Mitchell Dunn2nd Row for Roosters is number 15 Nat Butcher
Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason TaumaloloLock for Roosters is number 13 Victor Radley
Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Jake GranvilleInterchange for Roosters is number 11 Angus Crichton
Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 Tom GilbertInterchange for Roosters is number 14 Lachlan Lam
Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Coen HessInterchange for Roosters is number 16 Egan Butcher
Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Peter HolaInterchange for Roosters is number 17 Fletcher Baker
Reserve for Cowboys is number 21 Daejarn AsiReserve for Roosters is number 20 Adam Keighran
- Referee: Ashley Klein
- Touch Judge: Dave Munro
- Touch Judge: Todd Smith
- Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy
Lachlan Lam, Nat Butcher, Egan Butcher and Fletcher Baker have been named on the interchange bench, while Ben Thomas, Adam Keighran, Billy Smith and Tuku Hau Tapuha take their place on the extended bench.
The Cowboys will also be bolstered by the return of Origin talent, with Valentine Holmes and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow taking their place in the outside backs, while Jake Clifford and Jordan McLean will reach personal milestones of 150 club and career games respectively.
Key Match Up: Victor Radley vs Jason Taumalolo
Two fan favourites and two of the best lock forwards in the competition clash on Saturday night when Victor Radley and Jason Taumalolo line up against one another.
Though suspension and injury have gotten in the way of their respective seasons, limiting them to nine games each, both have displayed why they are so imperative for their teams' performances in vastly different ways - Radley an imposing figure in defence and a calm ballplayer in attack - while Taumalolo's style is very much 'rough and tumble' on both sides of the ball.
Despite their difference in styles, both average similar numbers, particularly when it comes to their defensive fortitude - with Radley averaging more tackles per game (32 vs 26) while Taumalolo pips him in tackle efficiency (93.2% vs 91.4%). It is also important to note that on average, Clovelly Crocodiles Junior plays two minutes less than his opponent per game (56 vs 58).
With both teams looking to return to form, as the finals loom, keep an eye on these two Premiership-winning superstars to take charge and go full steam ahead as they clash on Saturday night.
Round 10 Match Highlights: Roosters v Cowboys
The Cowboys return home to Townsville after two consecutive road trips to Newcastle, while the Roosters make the necessary move to the Sunshine Coast as they relocate to keep the competition running.
Both teams will be highly motivated and gunning for a win for vastly different yet equally important reasons, so it's fair to assume that this clash will be season-defying.
Please note though that people who have been to a COVID-19 hot spot during the past 14 days before the game may be denied entry into the venue.
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