Cowboys continue rolling on to finals
No more ‘ one- trick pony’ tags
NORTH Queensland have become a legitimate quadruple threat with the Cowboys sending a reminder to the NRL there is more to their attacking arsenal than just Johnathan Thurston.
The Cowboys kept their undefeated run in Sydney going last night with a 30- 12 victory over Manly at Brookvale Oval, with Thurston, fullback Lachlan Coote, five- eighth Michael Morgan and hooker Jake Granville all playing key roles in the five tries to two win.
It was the Cowboys first win at Brookvale Oval since 2005 and continued their eightgame winning streak away from home as the club tries to win its first premiership in its 20- year history.
The only downside to last night’s Round 19 victory was a knee injury to Queensland prop Matt Scott who will be sent for scans today, but was overdue a rest in coming weeks anyway after a draining representative season.
Manly are on track to miss the finals for the first time since 2004 and halfback Daly Cherry- Evans failed to finish the game with a shoulder issue.
While previous Cowboys teams have been guilty of relying upon the brilliance of Thurston to muster all their points, this side is showing greater variety in attack and now has genuine threats with its one, six and nine at any stage of the game.
Raging Dally M Medal favourite Thurston is the freshest mentally and physically he has been going into the business end of the season.
“I feel very fresh, especially mentally,” Thurston said.
“The body physically and mentally feels good. It’s an exciting time for us, the back end of this year coming into the finals, but we know we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.
“We’ve been in a different position this time the last few years, we’ve always been chasing our tails after the Origin period. We’ve put ourselves in a good position and it’s about playing consistent football over this next month.”
Last night’s game showed how far they have come defensively, conceding 10 missed tackles as Manly’s only tries came from a kick and a Cowboys error with the ball.
That is the major focus for coach Paul Green and his men over the next seven weeks of the NRL regular season, with the Cowboys aware their defence will be the only thing that can stop them from winning a maiden title.
“I never at any stage felt too worried,” Green said.
“I would’ve really liked to have seen us start with a harder edge in that second half.
“Defence is the part of our game we need to improve and I thought tonight we defended well, it was a good night from that respect.”
Green said the challenge for him with his team flying high on the ladder was containing the growing expectations in Queensland of the prize they could land in October.
“As a coach you’re always trying to keep a lid on expectations because there is still a lot of footy to be played in this season still,” Green said.
“It’s good your fans and supporters can get excited about potentially what might happen, I can’t control everything that happens up there, but amongst us as a group we know what is ahead of us and what is at stake and we’re not getting too excited just yet.
‘‘ We have some hard work to do.”