Schick Hydro Preview: Bulldogs v Cowboys
With a place in the top eight on the line both teams have plenty to play for. The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and North Queensland Cowboys have had a totally opposite last five rounds, with the boys from Belmore winning four from five, while North Queensland are only one from five.
The Bulldogs seem to have picked up some, but not all, of the North Queensland Cowboys' bad luck in recent weeks, with five-eighth Josh Reynolds ruled out for five weeks due to a hamstring injury.
Up north the Cowboys will be praying that Johnathan Thurston's shoulder injury in the Anzac Test match was the dying gasp of their horror run of injuries for 2017, and will be eager to see both Lachlan Coote and Jake Granville get through the game unscathed.
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will be out to forge an important victory when the North Queensland Cowboys visit ANZ Stadium on Thursday 11 May.
Why the Bulldogs can win: After getting over the Raiders in Round 9 without captain James Graham, the Bulldogs forwards that got the job done will be full of confidence coming into Round 10 at ANZ Stadium. Aiden Tolman - who played the full 80 minutes - and Adam Elliot who played his first 80-minute stint and crossed for two tries, will be looking to continue their strong season. If these men can do it all again they'll have no trouble rolling down the field, and tries will come with or without Reynolds. Halfback Moses Mbye will have no problem getting around the Cowboys if the Bulldogs forwards earn the field position, and between the Morris brothers, the Bulldogs' hard-running backrowers and high-class wingers, Bulldogs fans that make the trip to ANZ Stadium could be in for a treat on Thursday night.
Why the Cowboys can win: The return of Jake Granville and Lachlan Coote, even without the maestro Johnathan Thurston, will be a huge addition to the Cowboys side. Offensively Granville gets the Cowboys forwards on the front foot right, evidenced by the Cowboys' 150 fewer metres per game since he had been out. Granville is also a tidy defender in the middle, and tightens up the Cowboys' defence throughout the game. Coote knows when and where to insert himself, and his ball skills and close-range kicking game add an extra dimension to the Cowboys' attack. The fullback's long range kicking game will also allow him to relieve some of the pressure on Michael Morgan. If the Cowboys can control the field position and make the Bulldogs start their sets in their own end they'll be able to limit the damage the Bulldogs' big men do. All of this will count for nothing if the Cowboys don't heed coach Paul Green's words and improve their small efforts, especially in defence.
The history: Played 35; Bulldogs 21; Cowboys 14. The Bulldogs have the upper hand in this contest overall, but in recent times the Cowboys have been utterly dominant, having won all five of their last encounters.
Match officials: Referee: Matt Cecchin. Assistant referee: Adam Gee. Touch Judges: Kasey Badger and Chris Sutton. Review officials: Luke Patten and Bernard Sutton.
Televised: Channel Nine and Fox League – Live coverage from 7.50pm
How we see it: The confidence the Bulldogs forwards will have gained from their win over the Raiders last week will give them an extra spring in their step. Even with Granville and Coote returning the Cowboys won't have enough power in the engine room to get over the Bulldogs' massive forward pack. Bulldogs by 12.