Round 10 Preview: Wests Tigers vs North Queensland Cowboys

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Wests Tigers vs North Queensland Cowboys
Thursday 10th May
Lichardt Oval
7:50pm AEST

Wests Tigers: 
1 Corey Thompson, 
2 David Nofoaluma, 
3 Esan Marsters, 
4 Kevin Naiqama, 
5 Mahe Fonua, 
6 Benji Marshall (c), 
7 Luke Brooks, 
8 Russell Packer, 
9 Elijah Taylor, 
10 Ben Matulino, 
11 Chris Lawrence, 
12 Robbie Rochow, 
13 Matthew Eisenhuth
Interchange: 14 Alex Twal, 15 Jacob Liddle, 16 Michael Chee-Kam, 17 Sauaso Sue
Reserves: 18 Tim Grant, 20 Malakai Watene-Zelezniak
1 Lachlan Coote, 
2 Kyle Feldt, 
3 Justin O'Neill, 
4 Ben Hampton, 
5 Antonio Winterstein, 
6 Michael Morgan, 
7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 
8 Matthew Scott (c), 
9 Jake Granville, 
10 Scott Bolton, 
11 Gavin Cooper, 
12 Coen Hess, 
13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14 Te Maire Martin, 15 Shaun Fensom, 16 Corey Jensen, 17 Ethan Lowe
Reserves: 18 Francis Molo, 20 Javid Bowen
Round 10 kicks off with the new look Tigers outfit hosting the hot and mainly cold Cowboys at Lichardt Oval. 
The Tigers have looked incredibly dangerous this season defeating the Storm twice as well as well as having big wins over Manly and Parramatta. However it is not all great things for the Tigers at the moment dropping their last two games as well as being outscored for a combined 50-26 over the past couple of weeks. This is no reason to be discouraged however Tigers fans with the club already this year going above and beyond on what your team was projected.
The Cowboys on the other hand however, were premiership favourites heading into the 2018 season but after a horrid start they see themselves sitting 12th. The Cowboys at times look like the Cowboys of old and others they look like they are a brand new team still looking to make connections and form new combinations which is something they do not need to do, at least not yet. 
There are some pivotal key match ups this week and look to be a strong focus on this game. 

Match up 1: Battle of the Halves
It is no secret that the Cowboys halves pairing of Michael Morgan and Johnathan Thurston are lacking their usual spark and creativity however the last few weeks they have shown a huge step in the right direction. Greg Alexander once said earlier this season that "JT has played a year too long", yet despite these comments he is still sitting up near the top of almost all stats relating to Halfbacks/Five-Eights. Michael Morgan is finally finding his confidence in running the ball and this game could make or break how the rest of his season could unfold. For the Cowboys to be successful look for Morgan to run the ball early and often trying to catch the Tigers left side defence sleeping. 
On the other side of the field however Luke Brooks is in his Career best form at this current stage and with Benji returning to the Tigers this season Brooks has only grown in confidence. Many believed that with Marshall returning that Brooks would take a step back and let Benji run the side however this season that has not been the case. Benji has been the leader on the field, there is no doubt about that, however Luke Brooks has shown a level head and a level of confidence that we haven't seen before this season and he is only getting better.
Match up 2: Fonua and Naiqama vs Hampton and Feldt
Both of these match ups will play across from each other, and since making his club debut a few weeks ago Mahe Fonua has looked outstanding. Close to the line he is incredibly hard to stop and with the speed of Naiqama inside him look for the Tigers to spread the ball early trying to get these two in some open space. Close to the line however many would back Fonua to score in almost every scenario, however the man who will be guarding him is one of the NRL's best finishers in Kyle Feldt.
Not long ago Feldt was the unsung hero of the Cowboys maiden Grand Final win scoring in the corner after the Siren had sounded to send the game to Golden Point and moments later did the towering kickoff which led to the Ben Hunt knock on, however since then he has only improved his game. He is renowned for his finishers at the try line being able to put his body in all sorts of positions to make sure he gets the ball grounded in the in goal area, and his leaping ability helps him defuse any attacking kick that comes his way.
If the Cowboys can build on their performance from last week they will be hard to stop however, with the Tigers coming off back to back losses and playing at their spiritual homeground of Lichardt Oval the Tigers are easily heavy favourites. This will be a tight contest which I see the home side coming away with a 8 Point victory.


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