Cowboys con­tinue rolling on to fi­nals

No more ‘ one- trick pony’ tags

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TODD BA­LYM

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.”

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