Based purely on round 13 form you'd say the Cowboys have a clear edge in this one... but form has gone out the window in recent weeks with upsets galore.
The Cowboys had a real dig against Manly and were brave to the end despite losing Jordan McLean and Mitch Dunn to injury and having a couple of big calls go against them in the second half.
Wests Tigers on the other hand were terrible against Canberra.
As flat and predictable as they had been on Easter Monday at the very same venue against Parramatta. Same stadium, same lack of cohesion, same embarrassing outcome.
With both sides equal on 12 points and only outside the eight on for and against, there is plenty to play for in Townsville.
Match: Cowboys v Wests Tigers
Round 14 -
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville
Cowboys: Jordan Kahu has been called up from the reserves an hour before kick-off to start at five-eighth, pushing John Asiata to the bench. Enari Tuala moves from winger to centre for Mitchell Dunn (shoulder injury), while Scott Bolton has been promoted to start at prop for Jordan McLean (hamstring). Kurt Baptiste and Corey Jensen have been named on the bench, with Reuben Cotter replaced. Dan Russell and Emry Pere were the players cut from the extended bench 24 hours before kick-off, while Peter Hola and Corey Jensen were omitted an hour prior to kick-off.
Wests Tigers: The Tigers are 1-17 as named on Tuesday. Captain Moses Mbye has been named in the centres with Corey Thompson at fullback. Robert Jennings returns on the wing after being dropped last week. Benji Marshall (eye) and Mahe Fonua (foot) suffered injuries in the Raiders loss but Marshall has been named and will take his place on Friday. Fonua's future is uncertain. Elijah Taylor and Luke Garner were cut from the reserves on Thursday, while Chris McQueen and Paul Momirovski were the last players cut on game day.
Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Michael MorganFullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Corey Thompson
Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle FeldtWinger for Wests Tigers is number 2 Robert Jennings
Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Enari TualaCentre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Moses Mbye
Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Tom OpacicCentre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Esan Marsters
Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Javid BowenWinger for Wests Tigers is number 5 David Nofoaluma
Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 19 Jordan KahuFive-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Benji Marshall
Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Jake CliffordHalfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke Brooks
Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Josh McGuireProp for Wests Tigers is number 8 Ben Matulino
Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Jake GranvilleHooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Robbie Farah
Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Scott BoltonProp for Wests Tigers is number 10 Alex Twal
2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Gavin Cooper2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Ryan Matterson
2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Coen Hess2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Michael Chee-Kam
Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason TaumaloloLock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Matthew Eisenhuth
Interchange for Cowboys is number 6 John AsiataInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Jacob Liddle
Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Kurt BaptisteInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Thomas Mikaele
Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 Shane WrightInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Josh Aloiai
Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Francis MoloInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Chris Lawrence
- Referee: Ben Cummins
- Referee: Dave Munro
- Touch Judge: Tim Roby
- Touch Judge: Belinda Sharpe
- Video Referee: Beau Scott
- Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy
Watch for big games from the respective rakes as Jake Granville and Robbie Farah match dummy-half smarts and darts in an intriguing contest. Granville had been mentioned in Origin despatches before game one and he'll be keen to keep his name up in lights should an opportunity present itself. Tigers veteran Farah has been there and done that and was part of a drought-breaking Blues series win 2014. Both hookers possess a decent kicking game and the ability to spot a tired forward around the ruck and make him pay.
For the Cowboys to win
If Paul Green sticks with John Asiata and Jake Clifford in the halves the Cowboys need them to be steady and composed for the full 80 if they are to win. Asiata is a player of immense skill and flair but he was guilty of overplaying his hand in the dying stages against Manly rather than coming up with the safe option. Clifford is an emerging talent but it's a lot to ask of a player with only 13 NRL games to his name to steer a ship that had the great JT at the helm for so many years.
For the Tigers to win
Find some urgency in defence, especially when the opposition puts in a grubber or high ball. The Raiders punished them several times last week by being more desperate to keep the ball alive when a half-chance presented itself. The Cowboys won't be afraid to use a short kicking game to break things up and high balls to the wing of Kyle Feldt and the Tigers will get punished if they don't compete a whole lot harder on the ground and in the air than they did last week.
Brett Kimmorley says
The Tigers just need to learn how to score points. They're brave defensively, but they need to click in attack. The Cowboys are starting to find their groove. John Asiata has added some stability since moving to five-eighth and Jason Taumalolo is ready to create some havoc here. Cowboys by 10.
Luke Brooks has engaged the line 107 times in 12 matches this season, more than any other player in the NRL. Cowboys No.6 John Asiata has engaged the line 66 times in 13 games. Brooks isn't afraid to take a whack if it means setting up an opportunity for support players but his tally of eight try assists is one he'd probably expect to be higher at this stage of the season.
And another thing ...
It's 14 years since these two sides clashed in the 2005 NRL grand final and plenty of water has gone under the bridge since then, including the Cowboys making amends for losing that decider to the 'Benji Flick' by winning the big one in 2015 thanks to the 'Feldt Flick'. One thing that hasn't changed though is the presence of Marshall and his old mate Robbie Farah, still going strong for Wests Tigers 14 years after savouring that magic moment in their early 20s.