Match day guide and preview for the Raiders NRL Round 7 game against the Cowboys.
Who, when and where?
North Queensland Cowboys vs Canberra Raiders
Saturday 24 April, 7.35pm
Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
Ladder position and recent form
Canberra Raiders 9th | 113 points for | 125 points against | 3 wins & 3 losses | LLWLW
After a strong start to the season, the Raiders have now lost three of their last four matches including big defeats to the Panthers and Eels in their last two games.
The 65 points conceded over the past two games is the most the club has allowed in a two game span since Rounds 20 and 21 in 2018 so expect defence to be Ricky Stuart’s top priority. Although, the attack isn’t exactly firing either so there’s plenty to work on for Canberra.
North Queensland Cowboys 13th | 100 points for | 189 points against | 2 wins & 4 losses | WWLLL
After a dismal opening four games, the Cowboys have found form with back-to-back wins over the Tigers and Bulldogs.
Having scored just 36 points over the opening four rounds, the Cowboys have got their attack going and produced 64 points in their last two matches. However, they have conceded the second most amount of points in the NRL at over 31 points a game.
Last 5 meetings
The Raiders hold a strong 4-1 record over the Cowboys in their last five games, but the last two matchups were extremely close contests.
The Cowboys stunned the Raiders in 2019 before almost producing a similar upset in 2020, just falling by two points.
They come into this game as the underdogs but another Cowboys upset surely wouldn’t surprise.
- 2020 Round 12: Cowboys 12 – 14 Raiders at Queensland Country Bank Stadium
- 2019 Round 11: Raiders 16 – 22 Cowboys at GIO Stadium Canberra
- 2019 Round 4: Cowboys 12 – 30 Raiders at 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville
- 2018 Round 18: Raiders 38 – 12 Cowboys at GIO Stadium
- 2018 Round 8: Cowboys 8 – 18 Raiders at 1300SMILES Stadium
After having a crack at certain individuals after their 35-10 loss to the Eels, Stuart has made several changes to his side for the trip to Townsville.
Josh Hodgson (calf) and Bailey Simonsson (concussion) are both ruled out with injury while Joe Tapine and Sia Soliola have been dropped.
Tom Starling will start at hooker for Hodgson and Seb Kris comes onto the wing for Simonsson. Starling had a fantastic 2020 season playing as the main dummy half while Kris was impressive playing at centre early in the season.
Corey Harawira-Naera and Corey Horsburgh’s NRL exile is now over after they were included on the bench for the Green Machine. It will be their taste of NRL in 2021 after both were suspended for drink driving charges in the off season. Ryan James also returns to the side and will start in the front row alongside Emre Guler while Josh Papalii has been relegated to the bench.
North Queensland Cowboys
The Cowboys come in with the same 17 that got the job done against the Bulldogs last week.
They are still without their captain Jason Taumalolo (hand) and livewire Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (leg).
The players to watch
Raiders – The Coreys
The club was rightly filthy with both Harawira-Naera and Horsburgh after their separate indiscretions over the off-season and they have been forced to earn their spots back in the side.
Harawira-Naera has scored four tries in the past three matches in the NSW Cup and offers the Raiders versatility off the bench with his ability to play on an edge and through the middle. He has represented New Zealand at international level and would be desperate to make an impact in his first game back.
Horsburgh has also been really strong in the NSW Cup, running for over 200 metres in 67 minutes last week. Horsburgh has proven himself at NRL level in the past and his ability to get a late offload away should help the Raiders struggling attack.
Cowboys – Valentine Holmes
Holmes returned to the NRL as a high-priced recruit but hasn’t quite delivered value for money for the Cowboys.
He has spent time on the wing this season but has shifted back to fullback the last two weeks and looked much better. He ran for 219 metres last week with one line break and one try assist in a sign that he could still become a gun fullback once again.
Other match details
The match is live on Fox League 502 and can be streamed through Kayo.
Gates open at 5pm. Click here for conditions of entry if attending.
There will be an Anzac Day Tribute at the ground before the game at 7.30pm.