Cow­boys need to lift, Crocs put ri­vals on no­tice

Townsville Bulletin - - Voice Of The North -

TOWNSVILLE was in the sport­ing head­lines for all the right rea­sons at the week­end and lo­cals have ev­ery rea­son to be proud. The Cow­boys did just about ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to lose against the Bron­cos in Bris­bane on Fri­day night but de­fended like lions to earn a mem­o­rable – al­beit un­ex­pected – vic­tory. The fact the Bron­cos were with­out stars Justin Hodges and Ben Hannant is notable but the Cow­boys will only be think­ing of a pre­cious away win. At the NBL on Satur­day night, the Croc­o­diles were shell­shocked at home early but ral­lied to over­come a red-hot New Zealand Break­ers out­fit and showed the kind of steel they’ll need to fi­nally bring a cham­pi­onship to the North. For the Cow­boys, the off-sea­son ap­point­ment of a tack­ling tech­ni­cian like Peter Ryan as de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor looks al­ready to have paid div­i­dends, and with some more fine tun­ing, Cow­boys fans may be spared the frus­tra­tion they en­dured last year. Those who were on the end of one of Ryan’s full­blooded hits back in his play­ing days still wince when they think about it. The club also recog­nised club le­gend Paul Bow­man’s skills by ap­point­ing him as high per­for­mance man­ager in the off-sea­son. He was no slouch in de­fence ei­ther as a player and un­doubt­edly can ex­ert some in­flu­ence on the team’s de­fen­sive line. But if the Cow­boys keep com­mit­ting the silly er­rors which put them un­der so much pres­sure on Fri­day night, they’ll need ev­ery bit of tack­ling knowl­edge they can get their hands on. Knock-ons in their own half, poor last-tackle op­tions and the seem­ingly ever-present abil­ity to make the most un­think­able of mis­takes must be ad­dressed now or they could get a les­son from New­cas­tle up here this week­end. The Knights looked mean, hard and hun­gry against Pen­rith yes­ter­day. Let’s hope our boys can send them pack­ing. Most pleas­ing was the ab­so­lutely bril­liant form dis­played by Matty Bowen who looks to be on the verge of re­turn­ing to his best. But he’ll take some time to be­come match hard­ened af­ter an in­jury-in­ter­rupted 2010 as was ev­i­denced by his hes­i­ta­tion in go­ing for a ball and try­ing to kick it in­stead which re­sulted in a Bron­cos try. He was as dirty on him­self as the fans were but with more games, he’ll be mop­ping up those sort of balls with ease. The Crocs took their time to fire up against the Break­ers but must surely come into real cham­pi­onship con­tention. The Break­ers flew out to a dou­bledigit lead but Luke Schen­scher, Nathan Cross­well and Rosell El­lis lifted man­fully and sparked a mem­o­rable come­back that all other fi­nals-bound teams will have taken no­tice of. Depth off the bench, self-be­lief and strong lo­cal sup­port should carry the Crocs well into the play­offs race.

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