We’re not out of it yet: Coach

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JON TUXWORTH jonathon. tuxworth@ news. com. au

COW­BOYS coach Paul Green is adamant his dec­i­mated side is still in the pre­mier­ship race even if they fin­ish out­side the top four.

The NRL’s big­gest in­jury toll be­came worse when Justin O’Neill suf­fered a sus­pected dis­lo­cated el­bow in Satur­day’s 24- 16 loss at Pen­rith, the Cow­boys’ third straight loss.

The in­jury usu­ally re­quires a four- to six- week re­cov­ery pe­riod, mean­ing the cen­tre’s sea­son could be over.

It is be­lieved full­back Lach­lan Coote sprained his an­kle af­ter he was twisted awk­wardly in a tackle but it isn’t too se­ri­ous.

For­ward Shaun Fen­som was also in the wars as he suf­fered a me­dial lig­a­ment in­jury in the hard- fought loss in Syd­ney.

The club is also con­fi­dent Michael Mor­gan ( con­cus­sion) will be fine to play this week af­ter he didn’t re­turn to the field for the sec­ond half.

The Cow­boys are now eighth with three rounds re­main­ing, just two points ahead of the ninth- placed Dragons who have an eas­ier run home on pa­per.

But North Queens­land is also just two points out­side the top four be­fore this Satur­day’s cru­cial home clash with Cronulla.

No team has won the pre­mier­ship from out­side the top four but Green warned not to put a red line through his team yet if they get some troops back.

“It ( top four) would be nice be­cause of the travel in­volved, but if we fin­ish out­side the top four, it won’t worry us,” Green said.

“We knew we had four games to go ( be­fore the Pen­rith match) and we had to win at least one, if not two, to make sure we’re play­ing fi­nals.

“There’s three games to go. We’re still hang­ing in there, we’ll be all right.

“We’re not done yet. It just feels like a few things are go­ing against us the last cou­ple of weeks but we’ve got plenty of char­ac­ter. I’m proud of those blokes.”

The Cow­boys played with 15 men for more than 40 min­utes and the Pan­thers had to wait un­til the dy­ing stages to put the spir­ited vis­i­tors away.

The re­sult may have been dif­fer­ent had it not been for a su­perb one- on- one tackle by teenage half­back Nathan Cleary on Cow­boys man moun­tain Coen Hess.

North Queens­land led 16- 12 with 27 min­utes left and the Bunker ruled there was in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to award a try af­ter ref­eree Matt Cecchin sent it up­stairs as a no try.

Asked if he thought he scored, Hess said: “In the spur of the mo­ment I didn’t think I did, but watch­ing the re­play I think it touched the ground. But it’s the ref’s call and you can’t change it now.

“I guess it comes down to a 50- 50 call and it didn’t go my way, so that’s fair enough.”

Green be­lieved the Cow­boys would have got the green light had it been ruled a try on the field.

“That’s one where if it had gone up as a try, we prob­a­bly would have got the try,” Green said.

“There was not much in it be­cause of the amount of times he ( video ref­eree) went over it.”

PROUD: Cow­boys coach Paul Green still has high hopes for his in­jury- hit team. Pic­ture: WES­LEY MONTS

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