BOOKMAKERS have thrown the form guide out the window, with North Queensland firm favourite to beat its Townsville bogey team Canterbury.
Sportsbet has the Cowboys at $1.40, with the in-form Bulldogs appearing way over the odds at $2.95 given their record against the defending premiers.
The bag boys got it badly wrong a few weeks ago when Brisbane were warm favourites against Melbourne, which was clearly in better form and had a wonderful record against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
Melbourne won the clash 48-6 and while tomorrow night’s scoreline is unlikely to be that lopsided, history shows the Bulldogs do like travelling north to play the Cowboys.
Canterbury has won four games straight since losing to Melbourne, but more importantly has won 12 times from 16 visits to Townsville, including on three of its past four trips north.
The Cowboys lost their last game to the Raiders but will welcome back a host of stars with Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper and Justin O’Neill returning from Origin duty and representative No.6 Michael Morgan (knee) back from injury.
It puts them at full strength against the Bulldogs, who are boosted by the inclusion of Origin forwards Josh Jackson and David Klemmer.
The Cowboys are a perfect 8-0 at home this season – with the Storm (9-0) they are the only unbeaten side at home – while Canterbury, along with the Storm, is the best travelling team in the NRL boasting an impressive 7-2 road record.
Both teams are locked on 26 points with the bonus for the winner being outright third place on the ladder.
The clash tosses up some wonderful battles as well – Thurston up against the player who could one day take his State of Origin spot, Moses Mbye; Scott versus James Graham; and, wait for it, Jason Taumalolo clashing with giant Dogs forward enforcer Klemmer.
This is a genuine heavyweight battle between the two quality forward packs, which will no doubt provide a psychological advantage for the winner when the finals roll around in September.
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