Winning run covers point of weakness
Furner tackles leaking defence
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
“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.”