North Queensland Cowboys v Penrith Panthers
Dairy Farmers Stadium, Saturday 7.30pm (AEST)
Last meeting: Round 21 2011 - Cowboys 30 bt Panthers 18 at Dairy Farmers Stadium
Head-to-head: Cowboys 11 Panthers 17
Referees: Steve Lyons and Chris James
TV: Live, FoxSports 2
TAB Sportsbet: Cowboys $1.55 Panthers $2.50
FootyTab: Panthers +4.5
Greg Prichard writes: The Cowboys are missing a trio of star players due to State of Origin - Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and Brent Tate. The Panthers are missing Michael Jennings to Origin, but he had been dropped last week anyway when they beat the Dragons. That win showed the Panthers still have spirit, despite their struggles this season, so the Cowboys are going to have to be wary of them.
AAP writes: The Panthers head to Townsville boosted by a golden-point win over St George Illawarra on Monday to face a Cowboys side shorn of four of their stars due to State of Origin commitments. Johnathan Thurston, Brent Tate, Matt Scott and James Tamou are all missing for the Cowboys. The Panthers are without skipper Luke Lewis, but will fancy their chances of a first win in Townsville since 2009. The Cowboys have won three of their past four fixtures, but how they cope without Thurston and co will decide the outcome of this game.
Key: Little Lachlan Coote has been a bright light in a fairly dire season for the Panthers. The speedy fullback kicked the winning field goal against the Dragons on Monday, and his battle with opposite No.1 Matt Bowen should give this game some box office appeal.
COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Antonio Winterstein, Kane Linnett, KalifaFaifai Loa, Michael Morgan, Ray Thompson, Ashton Sims, Aaron Payne, Glenn Hall, Gavin Cooper, Tariq Sims, Dallas Johnson. Interchange (one to be omitted): James Segeyaro, Ricky Thorby, Scott Bolton, Jason Taumalolo, Cory Paterson.
PANTHERS: Lachlan Coote, Etu Uaisele, Geoff Daniela, Brad Tighe, Josh Mansour, Blake Austin, Travis Burns, Sam McKendry, Kevin Kingston, Tim Grant, Clint Newton, Cameron Ciraldo, Ryan Simpkins. Interchange: Danny Galea, Chris Armit, Dayne Weston, Matt Robinson, Mitch Achurch.