Holmes a big doubt for Maroons after hip drop drama leaves Papali’i injured in Cowboys’ win

Val Holmes is likely to join the Origin list after being ruled out with a hip drop in the Cowboys’ 42-28 win over the Wests Tigers.

The center would have been a walk-on starter for Billy Slater’s Maroons team, but now must sweat over the outcome of tomorrow’s court charges.

Queensland will select their team over the weekend and will have to consider alternatives, with the most likely option being a move for Selwyn Cobbo, who has been the Broncos’ center all year.

Isaiah Papali’i was the unfortunate victim of Holmes’ tackle and left the game as a result, with the New Zealand international, who will join Penrith next year, set to scan for what looked like a syndesmosis injury.

It was ironic that, on either side of his sin bin, the center was one of the best on the field with two attempts and 178 linear meters, something very impressive considering he missed ten minutes.

His sin container almost precipitated a collapse. The Cowboys had built a comfortable 20-0 lead thanks to tries from Kyle Feldt, twice, and Jeremiah Nanai, but were in the process of being tied.

The Tigers scored two quick tries against 13 men, followed by another shortly after half-time with Holmes on the bench to give them real hope.

Lachie Galvin was the catalyst for the comeback, setting up a try with a precise kick for Samuela Fainu and then denying Feldt at the last moment with a crucial hand on the ball to force a strike.

However, as with most things for the Wests Tigers in 2024, it couldn’t last.

They couldn’t generate pressure well enough to increase their scoring, and when the Cowboys managed to recover, they started scoring again.

Sam McIntyre came through the posts with very little pressure from the Tigers defense and then Holmes himself recovered in equally simple circumstances. Nanai took another one late.

Although the Wests have often been blown away this year (this was their eighth straight loss), there were at least mitigating factors this time around.

They played last in the Magic Round and had to travel twice, as well as losing two more full-backs with Justin Olam and Brent Naden suspended.

That led to Dec Casey and Josh Feledy joining an already very inexperienced team, with inevitable results.

They gave themselves plenty to do in defense and while the latter teams were weak, they were often the result of a lot of tackles required.

The Cowboys take the two points but little else. They were able to score against a Tigers team that could have lost in the NSW Cup, but still managed to concede some shocking tries that exposed ongoing defensive issues.

Late goals from Stefano Utoikamanu and Alex Twal were as soft as they come and did little to convince North Queensland that they have improved with the ball.

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