The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
Cowboys’ form slipping away on finals eve
THE Melbourne Storm have confirmed suspicions that the Cowboys need Michael Morgan if they are to win the premiership this season.
The Storm returned to their professional best at AAMI Park last night, strangling the Cowboys to win 14-6.
The Cowboys’ poor starts were eventually going to hurt them, and last night the Storm’s commitment to simple rugby league made them pay.
Without Morgan and James Tamou, the Cowboys lacked attacking threat and punch through the middle.
Ray Thompson was solid as Morgan’s replacement but the attack never clicked.
Last night was the 10th time this season the Cowboys’ opposition has scored first.
The Cowboys were average in the first half, as they have been in most games this season, but the difference last night was the comeback never happened.
The Storm ran for almost 1500m as they showed teams where to hurt the Cowboys.
Cowboys coach Paul Green got 21 missed tackles and 12 errors, yet he praised his team’s defensive resolve.
Green did, however, lament a tough no-try call in the first half on Kyle Feldt.
Feldt capitalised on a great Lachlan Coote bust from his own half but the try was pulled up for an obstruction at the start of the play.
“Confusing is the right word. I have to be careful what I say on referee decisions,” Green said. “It made a massive difference.
“I’m always disappointed when we lose. We did things well that others teams had been better than us at.
“In particular, our goal line defence was excellent tonight.”
The Cowboys will finish third regardless of what happens against the Titans in the final round.
During the Cowboys warmup, co-captain and pack leader Matt Scott laid the law down to his forwards, pointing and yelling in a fashion not normally associated with the laconic Ilfracombe front-rower.
The players did not respond in the first half.
The Storm’s opening try was scored straight through the guts when Kenny Bromwich strode into a large hole between the posts to score in the 28th minute.
Rookie Storm fullback Cameron Munster was exceptional in the wet, his right palm shrugging off defenders at will.
Johnathan Thurston is heavily involved every week but last night the Steeden was practically glued to his hands as he seemed to play halfback and five-eighth at times.
He was perhaps required to do too much work as he made an uncharacteristic error in the second half when he fumbled a kick in goal that allowed Will Chambers to score.
Utility Rory Kostjasyn was heavily concussed attempting a tackle.