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The Dragons head to Townsville refreshed after a bye but will need to be at their absolute best to topple the high-flying Cowboys.

Sitting third on the ladder with a differential of +160, Todd Payten's men have set themselves up perfectly for the demanding State of Origin period, which saw them go in against the Titans without four of their stars but still win comfortably,

A win for the Dragons would serve notice they deserve to be mentioned in the 'contenders' conversation and put a spring in their step ahead of two home games at WIN Stadium against the Rabbitohs and Raiders.

The Cowboys have already had more victories than their entire 2021 season and will have this one pencilled in for a 10th win of the year, all but ensuring they'll return to the finals for the first time since 2017.

Sportsbet Betting preview: Cowboys v Dragons

The Rundown

Team news

Cowboys: Todd Payten has decided to rest Maroons reps Reuben Cotter and Jeremiah Nanai but Val Holmes will play. Tom Dearden returns at five-eighth after missing Round 13 on Origin squad duty so Ben Hampton drops out. Holmes was named on the wing but he and centre Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow may swap positions.

Dragons: Tariq Sims is out and is replaced on the edge by Josh McGuire, while Ben Hunt is set to play less than 48 hours after his Origin performance for the Maroons. Jaydn Su'A comes onto the interchange bench in place of Jayden Sullivan. Jonathon Reuben, who scored 107 tries in 106 Queensland Cup appearances, will make his debut on the wing at the age of 28.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Scott Drinkwater
    Fullback for Dragons is number 1 Cody Ramsey
  • Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Murray Taulagi
    Winger for Dragons is number 5 Tautau Moga
  • Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
    Centre for Dragons is number 3 Moses Suli
  • Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Peta Hiku
    Centre for Dragons is number 4 Zac Lomax
  • Winger for Cowboys is number 23 Valentine Holmes
    Winger for Dragons is number 20 Jonathon Reuben
  • Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 19 Tom Dearden
    Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Talatau Amone
  • Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Chad Townsend
    Halfback for Dragons is number 7 Ben Hunt

Forwards

  • Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Jordan McLean
    Prop for Dragons is number 8 Francis Molo
  • Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
    Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Moses Mbye
  • Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Coen Hess
    Prop for Dragons is number 10 Blake Lawrie
  • 2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Tom Gilbert
    2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Jack Bird
  • 2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Heilum Luki
    2nd Row for Dragons is number 18 Josh McGuire
  • Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo
    Lock for Dragons is number 13 Jack De Belin

Interchange

  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Jake Granville
    Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Andrew McCullough
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 Connelly Lemuelu
    Interchange for Dragons is number 15 Aaron Woods
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
    Interchange for Dragons is number 16 Michael Molo
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Griffin Neame
    Interchange for Dragons is number 19 Jaydn Su'A

Reserves

  • Replacement for Cowboys is number 2 Brendan Elliot
    Replacement for Dragons is number 17 Jayden Sullivan

Match Officials

  • Referee: Todd Smith
  • Touch Judge: Darian Furner
  • Touch Judge: Wyatt Raymond
  • Senior Review Official: Chris Butler

Last updated:

Key match-up

Val Holmes v Zac Lomax: Two explosive attacking centres capable of turning the game in an instant. Holmes has been dynamic on the Cowboys' left side with 42 tackle breaks, six line breaks and four tries in 2022 while Lomax also four tries to go with 33 tackle breaks and five line breaks. Both possess slick passing skills and have laid on tries for outside men Murray Taulagi and Mikaele Ravalawa. Given any room to move they will make the opposition pay with their speed and stepping ability.

Stat Attack

Ben Hunt leads the NRL in line engagements with 125, always probing and keeping middle forwards honest with his quick feet and eye for a gap. Wests Tigers halfback Jackson Hastings sits second with 102 line engagements from just nine games and the leading Cowboy is Chad Townsend with 77.

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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