Raiders and Cowboys To Defy Preseason Expectations

Two start of the season roughies are genuine chances of progressing through to the preliminary finals next week with Canberra Raiders and North Queensland Cowboys set to capatalise on the faltering form of the Rabbitohs and the Sea Eagles.

With the lethal Jonathon Thurston/Matt Bowen combination back to it’s best, the Cowboys came into this clash as formidable opponents and their prospects have only improved following the horror week on the Northern Beaches. Jamie Lyon has been named to play but is a sketchy prospect at best. Should he break down, the Sea Eagles will have to do better than plonking Jamie Buhrer out in the centers and hopping for the best. Daly Cherry-Evans and Keiran Foran will both need to step up after a tough game against the Bulldogs and a team with Brett Stewart at the back is always capable of scoring points. Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart will have to create plenty of opportunities on the edge while Tony Williams has to address his error rate as to maximise his effectiveness. This will be easier said than done against a pack containing Matt Scott, James Tamou, and Tariq Sims coming of the bench. It promises to be brutal up the middle. If the Cowboys can win the battle of the forwards, then they should have the backline to run away with it… Cowboys by 8

It wasn’t that long ago that David Furner was facing the inglorious mid season coach sack but such has been their reversal that they enter the second week of the finals with the form backline of the comp. The Rabbitohs on the other hand have Greg Inglis so we’ll call that one about even. Souths are strong across the park but it’s in the halves where the Raiders have the edge. Josh McCrone and Sam Williams don’t receive much press outside of the nations capital but they form a dynamic duo and if they are given the time and space to feed the likes Blake Ferguson, Reece Robinson, and Josh Dugan then points are inevitable. Both teams have big, mobile packs but Souths will need Sam Burgess and Dave Taylor to dominate if they are to quell their finals nerves and play out to their potential… Raiders by 4

Picture by Mark Nolan,Ian Hitchcock, Robert Cianflone at Getty Images