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Canterbury Bulldogs v North Queensland Cowboys

Thursday, May 11, 7:50pm (AEST), ANZ Stadium, Sydney

The NRL action gets back underway after a week off due to the representative round. Both the Bulldogs and Cowboys have injuries to key playmakers which will have a huge bearing on the outcome on this clash. The Bulldogs will be missing Josh Reynolds for five weeks with a hamstring injury, presenting an opportunity for Matt Frawley to move off the bench and cement his spot in the halves. Meanwhile, it looks like Johnathan Thurston could be out for an extended period with a shoulder injury for the Cowboys and it will hurt their chances on Thursday night.
The Cowboys have won four straight over the Bulldogs, but it must be noted that the influential Jonathan Thurston featured in each of those victories. The Cowboys did the double in 2016, smashing the Bulldogs 36-0 at Townsville in Round 20, with Antonio Winterstein scoring a hat-trick and Justin O’Neill a double. The Cowboys backed it up in Round 25, with a 24-16 victory at Belmore. Ethan Lowe and Greg Eastwood both crossed for doubles.
Canterbury have been playing remarkably resiliently of late with 4 wins from their last 5 including a last start 16-10 victory over Canberra. The Bulldogs have conceded more than 12 points in a game just three times this year. Canterbury have been held to 16 or fewer in 5 of 9 games this year. North Queensland fell into dire straits before the bye with just one win in their last four encounters – a home clash with Newcastle where they came from behind. The Cowboys have conceded 26-plus in 5 of their last 7. The Cowboys have played just once outside of Queensland this year, a 6-point loss to the Dragons in Wollongong.
Key Matchup
David Klemmer v Jason Taumalolo. Klemmer and the rest of the Bulldogs pack will need to cement their authority in a predicted low-scoring clash against the Cowboys. Klemmer has had plenty of involvement since his move to the back of pack and hasn’t been afraid to put his hand up for the tough carries. Tamalolo’s minutes have slowed down over the past two rounds, and quite simply, the Cowboys can’t afford to have him sitting on the bench. ‘Lolo’ is the most explosive forward (30 tackle-breaks for the year) in the game and will need to go toe-to-toe with the Dogs strong pack.
Stats That Matter
Canterbury are 6-3 ATS with an NRL-best 8-1 under record while North Queensland are 5-4 ATS with a 6-3 under record. North Queensland have won four straight against Canterbury with none of those matches topping 40 points. The Cowboys are a perfect 4-0 straight and ATS at ANZ since 2014 with a 3-1 under number. North Queensland have covered just 3 of their last 10 interstate matches with the over hitting in 3 of their last 4. The Cowboys have covered just 6 of their last 15 off a bye while the under is 11-4 in those matches. The Bulldogs have covered 6 of their 9 off a bye.
Final Thoughts
The loss of Reynolds should be nullified by the absence of Thurston. The addition of Frawley will bring more structure to the Bulldogs and improve their kicking game. The Dogs showed what they are capable of in their upset win over the Raiders in Round 9 and will be looking to build on that performance against the Thurston-less Cowboys. Bulldogs to grind it out in a low-scoring affair.
How It’s Shaping Up
Canterbury by 4
Best Bet
Canterbury ($1.62)

Other Recommended Bets
Canterbury 1-12 ($3)

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