Dan Walsh, Staff Writer
Paul Green has credited the Cowboys' Sydney-based preparation for their impressive 22-10 upset of premiership heavyweights South Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
With just five days between the Saturday night fixture and Monday's one-point loss to Penrith in the city's west, the North Queenslanders chose to base themselves out of Cronulla for the week rather than make the arduous journey to Townsville and back.
And the proof of their plan's success came in a rather attractive pudding, as the Cowboys went into the break without registering an error and up 16-0 against a Rabbitohs outfit that had gone undefeated in their five previous games, before closing out their third away win of the year.
But for Matt Moylan's match-winning 78th minute field goal on Monday night, the Cowboys would be on a four game hot streak in Sin City, a remarkable turnaround from the eight straight away losses they endured going back to the 2013 finals series.
"Physically it's a massive help for us," Green said of the decision to set up camp in Sydney's south between two crucial away games.
"I don't think people appreciate just how much the flying and the travel that we have to do. [The Warriors] are in the same boat, I don't think people realise just how much that takes out of the boys.
"Given the short turn around... I was really pleased that the club supported us and made that option available for us to stay down. Physically the boys were really good, they looked really good."
Having bowed out of the past two semi finals through controversial defeats in Sydney, the Cowboys could well find themselves again playing back-to-back finals games away from home, with a finish in fourth, seventh or eighth place meaning they will not be playing at Townsville beyond Round 26.
Green declared the Cowboys road yips dead and buried after the hard fought win in front of 17,171 vocal Rabbitohs supporters, and indicated the club could adopt a similar approach if they play consecutive away games come the business end of the season.
"Early on a lot was made about us playing away," Green said.
"It doesn't hold any fears for us now playing away. The next games we'll have in Sydney they'll be big, so we'll be looking for the best preparation both physically and we'll be doing everything we can to make sure we're ready to play."
The Cowboys took a giant leap towards a third straight semi-finals appearance, with their final two games against the Sharks and Manly at home – where they possess an 9-1 record – a reward after a tough fortnight on the road against two of the competition's frontrunners.
Skipper Matt Scott, who again led from the front with a whopping 228 running metres, said the visitors had treated their clash with the in-form Rabbitohs as a match of semi-final proportions.
"It was a big win, it was a big game for us," Scott said.
"We prepared that way, treating it like a semi final against a side that had been in great form. We knew it was important for our preparation and that if we want to play semi final footy these are the type of games we've got to win.
"They're a big pack, they're physical. We knew we'd have to grind it out and to complete the way we did and come up with some of the plays to score points that's what we're going to have to do from here on in."