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Canberra desperate to ice Cowboys in NRL

NZN 30/06/2017 Matt Coughlan

With the gap between Canberra and the NRL top eight widening, their clash with North Queensland in freezing conditions shapes as a crucial chance to fire up their faltering season.

Parramatta's victory over Canterbury on Thursday night turns up the heat on the Raiders, who are three games adrift of the eighth-placed Eels.

It's forecast to be close to zero degrees when Saturday night's match at GIO Stadium kicks off, and Canberra hopes to use the conditions against their visitors from sunny Townsville.

"It's nothing new for us but I think it might be new for the Cowboys," Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer said.

"Hopefully, it can be a little bit of advantage but it's going to be a tough game."

It will be a baptism of ice for new recruit Te Maire Martin, who is set to make his club debut in the halves alongside Michael Morgan.

The Cowboys have pinned their hopes on the combination after Johnathan Thurston's season-ending injury.

But Sezer doesn't believe it will take long for Martin and Morgan to gel and says the Raiders have no plans to exploit the new pairing's unfamiliarity with each other.

"Most teams have got the same moves and the same plays these days," Sezer said.

The Cowboys made a winning start to life without Thurston over Penrith last week while the Raiders were beaten by an injury-depleted Brisbane in Canberra.

They were seen as a premiership contender earlier in the year but the Green Machine's minor malfunctions have led to a string of close losses that have them scrambling to make the finals.

With freezing temperatures expected for the start of the match, it's unlikely to improve throughout the game with an overnight low of -6C predicted.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Despite having the NRL's third-worst completion rate (73.9 per cent), Canberra are still the third most prolific scorers averaging 22.4 points per game.

* In the Cowboys' past four away matches they have outscored their opponents 56-6 in first halves.

* Wighton has scored seven tries in his seven matches against the Cowboys, his best tally and strike rate against any opponent.

Source: Fox Sports Stats

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