Disappointed Cowboys coach Paul Green has claimed injuries were no excuse as his side slumped to a 27-24 loss to the Dragons at Jubilee Oval.
While the defeat signalled their eighth loss of the year away from home, for no wins, the Cowboys were left clearly disappointed about the result despite missing 11 regular first-graders due to injury or Origin representation.
"We can use that as an excuse but at the end of the day the game was there for us to win so I'm disappointed with the result but at the same time I have a lot of mixed emotions," Green told reporters following the game.
"We're a bit under the pump at the moment. There were some courageous efforts out there and great performances but there were a few things we didn't do when we needed to.
"Unfortunately I'm in here talking about a loss that easily could have been a win and under the circumstances probably the best win of the year but it wasn't to be."
While Green admitted he was disappointed to head into the bye weekend off the back of the loss, the Cowboys mentor was pleased with the way his four debutants played, considering three were also making their first appearance in the NRL.
"They all did themselves very proud tonight," Green said."There were a lot of reasons for us not to win the game tonight but we had ample opportunities to win so I'm really disappointed about that and I'm also disappointed for those making their debut. We had a chance to make it a really memorable night for them."
While the Cowboys’ chances of making the finals has now come down to winning at least six of their final eight games, passionate stand-in captain Ashton Sims had no doubts the Townsville-based club could do the job.
"We're going forward, man," Sims said. "You can talk about how many players are missing out but at the end of the day there are wins and losses and we should have won tonight."
With the Cowboys prop signalling his intentions to leave the club during the past week to take up a deal with Warrington next season, North Queensland will have to lift to make it happy departure for the veteran.