In a contest that did not look as close as the final result indicated, the Cowboys remain in the Top 8 as the Knights languish at the bottom of the table.
Point 1: Errors for the Cowboys as still an issue:
It is easy to brush over problems, when a team leaves the field with a win. However, the number of preventable errors by the Cowboys would have placed them at risk against a better side. It is fine to be in the finals, but you will not last long if you fail to convert attacks in to tries with the line open. The number of times the Cowboys had the ball in the Kni9ghts 20 metre zone, should have been converted into a lot more points.
Point 2: Sorry Knights will struggle all season:
If your team struggles against a side with the number of outs currently suffered by the Cowboys, you have issues. They will get Ponga next year, but the issues for the Knights do not start at fullback and Brendan Elliot was a standout for the Knights. When Rory Kostjasyn can make his return from injury, it will help, but the number of players who are the level below the demands of the NRL are concerning. They will also have one of the longest lists of players who will be off contract. With the numbers thrown around for the top talent, will they miss out on the top tier and have to pay overs for second tier players just to field the team. Sitting Hodgkinson (currently contracted for 2018) who may have made the difference in this game, raises even more questions.
Point 3: Cowboys can build with their defence:
As they wait for the return of a number of their stars, the defence has, after their poor first half against the Dragons, kept both the Dragons and Knights to just 12 points. As a coach, you can put that poor first half to the settling in process, and be happy to see the defensive endeavour of the current playing group.
Point 4: Where has Ray Thompson been:
As an observer of the team, it had me wondering why the Cowboys were playing so many inexperienced players in key positions, especially in the spine. Ray had been called in during the State of Origin period in the last season and proved his worth with a very solid game. Whilst Ponga was man of the match, the efforts of Thompson was noticed and may be a sign of things to come. The Cowboys have been a two-hooker side for the last few years, and Ray offers many similarities to the recently departed Kostjasyn. He also showed presence and experience, vital during the periods when the Knights were putting together their infrequent raids.
Final Score: North Queensland Cowboys 24 Newcastle Knights 12.
Tries: Ponga (2), Cooper, Linnett.
Conversions/Penalties: Lowe 2/2, Feldt 2/4.
Tries: Ross, Elliot.
Conversions: Lamb 2/2.