COWBOYSBOYS SMASH H EELS
COWBOYS POINTS FRENZY IN MARCH TO THE FINALS
NORTH Queensland Cowboys made a statement last night in the final 20 minutes of their 46- 4 thumping of Parramatta. The Cowboys inflicted their biggest win this season and biggest win over the Eels. It was their 14th victory this year and should see them set a new record for wins and competition points by season’s end. Eight of the Cowboys’ 14 wins this season have been by six points or less. But that trend changed last night when the Cowboys ran in five tries late in the second half to stop any chance of an upset.
NORTH Queensland’s tryscoring power is coming out of left field, with the long- term partnership of Antonio Winterstein and Kane Linnett providing some polish to the Cowboys finishing.
With Cowboys co- captain Johnathan Thurston in the kind of form that should deliver him a record fourth Dally M Medal, left edge backs Winterstein and Linnett are directly benefiting as they form a ruthless edge combination.
They both scored in the record 46- 4 win over the Parramatta Eels last night and combined have now crossed for seven of the Cowboys last 16 tries.
Winterstein scored the opening try of the night with the Cowboys first attacking set, finishing off a slick backline movement created by fullback Lachlan Coote following a Matt Scott pass at the line.
Linnett could have gone himself but found his edge partner Winterstein, who has now scored five tries in five matches.
The left side could have had two more tries inside the first 14 minutes of the match, but for a dropped ball by Lachlan Coote while Thurston’s chip kick was desperately cleared by the Eels defence before Linnett could get it down.
Centre Linnett did eventually cross for his fourth try in three games during the second half, benefiting from Jake Granville’s pace out of dummy half.
Winterstein and Linnett have played together for most of the past four seasons and room together on the road.
Their familiarity with each other carries over to the defensive end, with just five of the past 31 tries the Cowboys have conceded coming down their side.
Co- captain Thurston said the amount of time he, backrower Gavin Cooper and the outside backs Linnett and Winterstein had been playing together had been key to their strength.
“Coops has been outstanding and Kane and Tones are bringing the ball back off our line with plenty of punt and we’ve got some good shape there,” Thurston said. “Defensively we’re doing pretty well and that’s the part we want to keep improving on and continuing to get better at.”
On the other side, the under- fire Cowboys right edge is starting to tighten, with only Reece Robinson’s pace leading to a Parramatta try last night.
Justin O’Neill’s desperate lunge stopped Brad Takairangi from putting the Eels back even although the centre was taken from the field late with a knee injury. O’Neill will have scans on the knee this week but is expected to be named in the team today.