By Nathan Beuman

The St George Illawarra Dragons will travel to face the North Queensland Cowboys at 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville on Saturday (kick-off 6.30pm).

Dragons halfback Benji Marshall is part of an 18-man travelling squad named by Head Coach Paul McGregor and returns having missed the previous two fixtures due to a minor hamstring strain.

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Dragons utility Josh McCrone, who had previously been playing in the pivot position, has been named in a five-man interchange which includes props Mike Cooper and Jake Marketo, hooker Siliva Havili and second-rower Will Matthews.

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Furthermore, second-rower Joel Thompson is available to play after taking an Early Plea after being charged with a Grade 2 “High Tackle - Careless” by the NRL Match Review Committee on Monday.

North Queensland Cowboys

The North Queensland Cowboys  have named a 17-man team for the encounter and welcome debutant Javid Bowen, who will make his first-grade debut, replacing Kane Linnett in the centres.

The Cowboys have scored an average of 24.0 points per game (third most in the NRL) so far this season with co-captain Johnathan Thurston putting up six try assists and 32 points over the first four weeks alone.

1. Lachlan Coote
2. Kyle Feldt
3. Justin O'Neill
4. Javid Bowen
5. Antonio Winterstein
6. Michael Morgan
7. Johnathan Thurston (c)
8. Matt Scott (c)
9. Jake Granville
10. James Tamou
11. Gavin Cooper
12. Ethan Lowe
13. Jason Taumalolo
14. Rory Kostjasyn
15. John Asiata
16. Scott Bolton
17. Ben Hannant

Key Match-Up

Dragons fullback Josh Dugan proved the game-changer with his winning try against the Penrith Panthers last round.

Since his switch to the custodian's role he has proven to be the team's best source of attack, and has made 548 metres from 66 runs to date.

The NSW Blues representative will be up against his opposite number Lachlan Coote who has already got his name on the scoresheet this season, totalling 356 metres from 45 metres.

History

The Dragons enter the encounter against having won only two of their previous nine games away against their hosts.

Recent history between the two clubs however has been pretty tight, with the Cowboys coming away with the two competition points 14 out of the previous 26 times both have faced-off against one another.