Cowboys keen on boost­ing chances

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TODD BA­LYM

COWBOYS cen­tre Justin O’Neill is con­fi­dent North Queens­land’s great­est weak­ness won’t be ex­posed again with the club’s maligned right side de­fence com­mit­ted to tight­en­ing the screws for the rest of 2015.

As the Cowboys pre­pare to face Par­ra­matta on Mon­day night, the team that shame­lessly ex­ploited North Queens­land’s con­fused right side by run­ning up a 30- point half- time lead seven weeks ago, O’Neill said it was a hor­ror show team­mates would never al­low to hap­pen again.

Con­ced­ing points is the big­gest ques­tion mark still hov­er­ing over the Cowboys and their premier­ship cre­den­tials and O’Neill knows they need to im­prove con­sid­er­ably over the next seven weeks be­fore the fi­nals to be a ma­jor threat for the ti­tle.

“We def­i­nitely have to be bet­ter, we want to be bet­ter than that and want to be bet­ter de­fen­sively, es­pe­cially lead­ing into the back end of the sea­son,” O’Neill said.

“I don’t think sta­tis­ti­cally we’re one of the higher teams in de­fence so we want to im­prove on that.”

Ac­cord­ing to Fox Sports Stats the Cowboys have con­ceded 25 tries through their right edge this sea­son, equat­ing to al­most half of their to­tal tries con­ceded of 56.

While they won’t have to con­tend with sus­pended Eels half­back Chris Sandow on Mon­day, O’Neill said his fel­low right side de­fend­ers were de­ter­mined to shut teams out in the run to Septem­ber.

“It’s been a bit of a fo­cus es­pe­cially since the start of the year, we’ve def­i­nitely got a lot of im­prove­ment there on the right side,” O’Neill said.

“I think we were pretty solid ( against Manly), we will watch the game back and take how we can be bet­ter from this game. There is def­i­nitely heaps to work on each week and we will work on that.

“I’ve had a few lit­tle goals my­self, one of them is just to play week- in week- out con­sis­tent football. But another one has been def­i­nitely the de­fence.

“Chang­ing clubs is also not that easy at times, some clubs do things a lot dif­fer­ent to other clubs. Get­ting into the new sys­tem and learn­ing how they de­fend is new but I think we’re all start­ing to get the hang of it on our right side and we’ve done bet­ter.”

O’Neill was a mem­ber of Mel­bourne’s 2012 premier­ship team and said there was cer­tainly a strong bond build­ing within this Cowboys out­fit to in­di­cate they’ll give this year’s ti­tle a ma­jor shake.

“You can feel it among the boys, the bond is a big thing,” he said. “When the boys and ev­ery­one is on lead­ing up to the game you can feel it, that helps bring a pos­i­tive feel­ing and vibe among the boys and it can lift the team.

“One of the Storm’s big­gest things was they seemed to fin­ish the year with high sta­tis­tics de­fen­sively so we know ours can be bet­ter and we want to try to match that.”

Pic­ture: ZAK SIM­MONDS

DE­TER­MINED: Justin O'Neill says there is a strong bond build­ing within the Cowboys and they want to shut teams out in the run to Septem­ber.

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