Cowboys need to lift, Crocs put rivals on notice
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.