Hess vows to bounce back

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TRENT SLATTER trent. slatter@ news. com. au

COWBOYS back­rower Coen Hess says the club’s young for­wards have taken it as a per­sonal chal­lenge to mus­cle up through the mid­dle in to­mor­row night’s block­buster clash with the Melbourne Storm at 1300SMILES Sta­dium.

The Cowboys have been the best de­fen­sive team in the com­pe­ti­tion over the past two months, but their pride took a hit last week­end as the Roost­ers steam­rolled them in the sec­ond half.

The Roost­ers dom­i­nated the yardage game to run for al­most twice as many me­tres as the visi­tors, help­ing them to score 16 unan­swered points and clinch an im­por­tant vic­tory in the race to­wards the fi­nals.

The Cowboys would be in the top four if they had cap­i­talised on their 16- 6 half­time lead against the Roost­ers and Hess said they were de­ter­mined to learn from their mis­takes be­fore a po­ten­tially sea­son- defin­ing clash with the first­placed Storm. “We knew the task ahead of us and we knew it’d be a very tough game so in that re­spect I don’t think any­one took it lightly, but I think as younger guys we learnt a les­son about need­ing to step up in those tough games,” Hess said.

“They came out in the sec­ond half with a lot more in­tent and ag­gres­sion through the mid­dle. I think that’s where they won the game.

“They steam­rolled us there a bit and let ( Luke) Keary and ( Mitchell) Pearce run off the back of that. They’ve got a lot of good out­side backs as well which they were able to pitch the ball to and that’s where they hurt us.

“I guess we took that a bit per­son­ally and we’ll be look­ing to bounce back.”

The Storm have built their domi- nance through their for­ward pack and no player is more clin­i­cal in the ruck than cap­tain Cameron Smith.

Smith gave New South Wales night­mares in last month’s Ori­gin de­cider, run­ning nine times from dummy half in a man- of- the- match per­for­mance as the Ma­roons clinched the se­ries.

The crafty hooker was again at his schem­ing best against Manly last week­end, lay­ing on four tries in the 40- 6 rout, and Hess said the Cowboys couldn’t af­ford to give Smith an inch.

“We have to fight in the ruck there. They’re ob­vi­ously a very good de­fen­sive unit so with the ball we’ll have to be a bit smarter,” Hess said.

“Just look­ing at what he ( Smith) did last week, that was prob­a­bly one of the best games he’s played all sea­son so he’ll be com­ing up here with a lot of con­fi­dence.

“Be­ing one of the best play­ers in the game, if you give him space or time then he can re­ally be a threat.”

PER­SONAL CHAL­LENGE: A de­jected Coen Hess af­ter the Cowboys went down to the Syd­ney Roost­ers last week­end.

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