No team can be underestimated this season
Very few counted on Manly being able to be even close to the Cowboys in this match. They came north and were able to somehow finish stronger than the Cowboys on a humid night in Townsville, love to know what was in the water bottles. With a clear plan to push the boundaries the Sea Eagles made their presence felt and beat up the Cowboys. Whilst it may cost them at the judiciary (ok let’s be honest, they will get the bare minimum because, you know, Sydney) it paid off for them with the two points.
Multiple Injuries have a large impact
Most teams can handle to replacement of one player into the squad at any time. Require two changes and you are going to suffer, three is very difficult, but four starters made the Cowboys task harder than expected. This would not have changed if Taumalolo had taken the early plea. Add to that an early injury to O’Neil and the Cowboys were ripe for the picking.
DCE sometimes plays rather well
After two weeks of his value to the Sea Eagles side being questioned, Daly Cherry Evans had one of his best games of his life, his kicking game was on point. His 30 -20 was probably the match turning play and his overall play with the ball was why he was given the largest contract in years. The pressure on him was enormous and the venue was hostile and he performed. Congratulations.
The Cowboys need to use the ball better
The Cowboys led every stat line (except kicks and kick yards) in this game and lost by 22. Whilst they were missing a key element in Taumalolo punching through the line, they still had 55% of possession and when in the red zone, they lacked the flair and variety that had served them so well in previous seasons. They had all week to work on plans for this, and they brought nothing when it counted.
Manly Sea Eagles 30
Tries: 4 (Taufua, Trbojevic, Lawrence, Hastings)
Goals: 7 (Walker)
North Queensland Cowboys 8
Tries: 1 (Granville)
Goals: 2 (Thurston)