Win­ning run cov­ers point of weak­ness

Furner tack­les leak­ing de­fence

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - LIAM BUT­TER­WORTH liam. but­ter­worth@ news. com. au

COWBOYS as­sis­tant coach Dave Furner claims North Queens­land are start­ing to find the for­ti­tude in de­fence needed if they are to truly chal­lenge for a maiden NRL premier­ship.

De­spite a win­ning run that has seen them win 14 of their past 15 matches, the Cowboys are the sixth best de­fen­sive team in the NRL with 323 points con­ceded, or 19 per game.

It puts them be­hind the com­pe­ti­tion’s tight­est de­fence of the Syd­ney Roost­ers, who con­cede 12 points per game, while the Storm and Dragons ( 15.29 points) and com­pe­ti­tion lead­ing Bron­cos leak on av­er­age 16 points per game.

The best de­fen­sive team has won the NRL four of the past five years, with only Manly in 2011 buck­ing the trend and win­ning as the com­pe­ti­tion’s sec­ond best de­fence.

But North Queens­land have kept teams to 12 in their past two games.

Furner said the two tries they con­ceded against Manly on Mon­day night, from an off­load er­ror and a kick, was en­cour­ag­ing and showed that they were start­ing to get things right on that side of the ball.

“I think it’s some­thing there for the re­main­der of the sea­son that has been par­tic­u­larly fo­cused on,” Furner said.

“At times we’ve all ad­mit­ted that we prob­a­bly haven’t been de­fend­ing as well as we would have liked.

At times we’ve all ad­mit­ted that we prob­a­bly haven’t been de­fend­ing as well as we would

have liked

“When you’re look­ing at teams that have won the com­pe­ti­tion, they’re up there in the top- two or three de­fen­sive sides.

“It’s some­thing there we need to work on and have iden­ti­fied and we went in with that fo­cus against Manly.

“One was from our er­ror and another was from a kick and de­fen­sively we’re head­ing in the right di­rec­tion.”

De­fence will prove im­por­tant again in Mon­day night’s Round 20 closer against Par­ra­matta at 1300SMILES Sta­dium, as the Cowboys aim to make amends for ship­ping 30 points in 45 min­utes when the teams met in Round 13.

All five tries came down the right edge as Semi Radradra ran riot and Furner said they would be look­ing to stop the de­struc­tive Eels of­fence.

“You can’t keep let­ting in 30 points and think you’re go­ing to win a game,’’ Furner said.

“De­fence will be the key and when you’ve got the right at­ti­tude there it goes hand in hand with a good de­fen­sive per­for­mance and we need that this week.”

DAVE FURNER

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