NRL PreviewNorth Queensland Cowboys v Cronulla Sharks
Saturday, August 19, 7:30pm (AEST) at 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville

The wheels are falling off the Cowboys’ season after three straight losses and no team has had a worse run with injuries this year. Justin O’Neill and Shaun Fensom join Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Gavin Cooper and Antonio Winterstein on the sidelines, while Lachlan Coote, Te Maire Martin and Michael Morgan will need to pass fitness tests to take their spots against the Sharks. Sharks hooker Jayden Brailey has been named on an extended bench as he nears his return from a broken jaw.
HistoryThe Sharks have won three straight and five of the last seven against North Queensland. However, the Cowboys have won four of the last five in Townsville. The Sharks won the Round 11 clash 18-14 in Sydney earlier in the year.
FormNorth Queensland have dropped their last three – all against Top 6 teams – and have fallen to eighth on the ladder with a 12-9 record. The Cowboys have not scored more than 16 points in any of those three losses. North Queensland have conceded 22 points in each of their last three for the first time this year. Cronulla have been awful in back-to-back losses against Canberra and Brisbane and are down to fourth on the ladder with their 13-8 record. The Sharks have the second best defence but have been poor in attack, ranking ninth. The Sharks have conceded at least 30 points in four of their last seven.
Key MatchupJason Taumalolo v Paul Gallen: Jason Taumalolo is the last man standing in a Cowboys side which has been decimated by injuries. Taumalolo isn’t afraid of rolling up the sleeves, running the ball 23 times for 237 metres in last week’s loss to the Panthers and made 30 tackles on the other side of the ball. He’s the Cowboys only hope of stopping the slide and keeping his side in the Top 8. The Sharks need to rediscover their winning form if they’re any hope of a Top 4 finish and defending their title. Sharks skipper Paul Gallen is the man who can turn their fortunes around, but needs to play more than the 55 minutes he did in last week’s loss to the Broncos. He’ll get the Sharks forwards on the front foot and allow halves James Maloney and Chad Townsend to feed off it. The Wolf is looking forward to this battle between the best forward in the game and the veteran Gallen.
Stats That Matter– North Queensland are 14-7 ATS with a 14-7 under record while Cronulla are 8-13 ATS with an 11-10 under number.
– Cronulla have won three straight and five of the last seven against North Queensland.
– The Cowboys, though, have won four of the last five in Townsville.
– Four of the last five matches have totalled 39 points or fewer.
– The under has hit in 10 straight Cowboys home games.
– The Cowboys are 28-21 ATS at home since 2014 but have covered just 1 of their last 4 as an underdog in Townsville.
– The Cowboys are 10-6 ATS with an 11-5 under record after being held to 16 or fewer.
– The Sharks are 14-8 ATS interstate including a 3-2 ATS (5-0 over) as an interstate favourite.
– Cronulla are 10-6 under after conceding 30 or more points.
Final ThoughtsThe Cowboys are done! Injuries are starting to take their toll on Paul Green’s men, while the Sharks will be desperate after their effort against the Broncos last week and a loss will also see them potentially slip out of the Top 4 if the Eels beat the Titans. Sharks must win and will win!
How It’s Shaping UpCronulla by 10
Best Bet
Cronulla -4 ($1.91)

Other Recommended Bets
Under 38 ($1.88)

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