GREEN EX­PECTS MAGIC MAR­SHALL TO COVER DU­GAN

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - LIAM BUT­TER­WORTH

COWBOYS coach Paul Green ex­pects St Ge­orge- Illawarra’s “world- class” halves pair­ing of Benji Mar­shall and Gareth Wid­dop will be ready to muster a Dragons at­tack miss­ing Blues full­back Josh Du­gan.

Du­gan has been one of the stand­outs in this year’s State of Ori­gin se­ries and has been av­er­ag­ing a com­mand­ing 171 run­ning me­tres in his 13 games for the Wol­lon­gong-based club this year.

It’s plenty of at­tack­ing prow­ess to make up but Green said New Zealan­der Mar­shall and English­man Wid­dop will of­fer plenty in at­tack.

It comes as the Cowboys will be with­out first choice halves Johnathan Thurston and Michael Mor­gan through Ma­roons com­mit­ments and have Ray Thompson and Robert Lui lead­ing the North Queens­land at­tack.

“You lose play­ers of that cal­i­bre ( Du­gan) and they will prob­a­bly be down a lit­tle in those ar­eas,” Green said.

“But they’ve still got world- class halves in Wid­dop and Mar­shall so we’ll have our hands full.

“It should be a tough game there in Wol­lon­gong.

“That’s their strength I think and with Du­gan out of their team, he adds plenty of at­tack so prob­a­bly those two guys will be the fo­cal point of their at­tack and Mitch Rein out of dummy half.”

The Cowboys coach said his side was still smart­ing af­ter their 24- 18 loss to the Cronulla Sharks on the week­end, es­pe­cially af­ter hold­ing a com­mand­ing lead and was de­ter­mined to make amends.

“We’re dis­ap­pointed to squan­der an 18- point lead go­ing into half- time,” he said.

“We haven’t been in that po­si­tion too many times this year so we weren’t able to con­vert that into the re­sult we wanted. We want to bounce back from the week­end and Saints are com­ing off the back of a cou­ple of losses also. Both teams would be pretty keen to get a good game un­der their belts.”

De­spite not hav­ing their first choice at­tack­ing op­tions, Green said his team would look to build on last week’s first half where the Cowboys ran in some smart team tries.

“We played some nice footy there last week and there were a few ar­eas where we were off,” he said.

“A few lit­tle ar­eas that can some­times get glossed over.

“For us as a team, it’s about tight­en­ing up in those ar­eas and then play­ing their part in that.”

Pic­ture: MARK MET­CALFE/ GETTY IM­AGES

WORLD- CLASS: Dragons’ Benji Mar­shall in ac­tion dur­ing the round 16 NRL match be­tween Par­ra­matta and St Ge­orge Illawarra in Syd­ney on Satur­day.

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