Cowboys v Roosters: Five key points
It was a night of few positives for the Roosters, losing Dale Copley and Ian Henderson to serious injury. Meanwhile the Cowboys – a team that averaged over 24 points per game last season – bounced back from 20-point and 14-point games to rack up 40 in the wet. The key points to come from North Queensland's big win at 1300SMILES Stadium.
Feldt puts talk into action
Kyle Feldt backed up his strong words from last week with a Houdini act, escaping two tacklers in the in-goal area and returning to the field of play.
After the game Roosters coach Trent Robinson lamented the momentum-changing play as another example of poor fifth-tackle execution.
“That’s the example of the last plays,” he said.
“That was probably our best kick of the half. I think we had two 20-metre restarts before that where they both went dead, a run on the last [play] where we got tackled and then a great kick, a really nice kick in there and we just needed to add a bit of pressure there. [Feldt] gets out and I think Dale does his pec on that play.”
Feldt has come on leaps and bounds, mainly on the defensive side of the ball, and has well-entrenched himself in the 17-man team.
Roosters captain throws support behind young halves
Jackson Hastings and Jayden Nikorima have been thrown into the fire in 2016. The flashes of brilliance have thus far been outweighed by a share of mistakes – including the failure to set up a field goal which would have buried the Raiders last week – but captain Jake Friend says they have a great support network.
“We’ve got ‘Joey’ (Andrew Johns) and ‘Pearcey’ (Mitchell Pearce) helping where he can. They’re young and as a team we need to help them as much as we can and we just have to get our last plays on and we’ve got to get that little bit extra on the sets and the fifth plays,” Friend told NRL.com after the game.
“They’re doing all the right things at training and we just have to produce that in games. All the tools are there; we’ve done everything but as a collective group we’ve got to get it on.”
Cowboys shake the rust
They only played one game in the wet last season but the Cowboys showed no ill effects, running up 40 points in drizzling rain, following tallies of 20 and 14 the first two rounds. Johnathan Thurston had his deft kicking game working, Lachlan Coote was clinical out the back and the forwards – namely James Tamou (224 run metres) and Ben Hannant (179 metres in 30 minutes) – rolled the ruck with ease.
“It was good to see that the boys responded [to last week’s loss] the way they did,” Cowboys coach Paul Green said post-game.
“It was pleasing to see that [relentlessness], and it’s where we need to get back to. I thought that’s how we finished last year, but we just need to be consistent with the little tough areas of the game and we probably lacked that. It’s good to see we had it tonight.”
Taukeiaho a shining light in grim start
Sio Siua Taukeiaho has been a revelation for the Roosters despite a dismal start to the season. Starting off the interchange bench in Round 1, the second-year lock forward leapt Isaac Liu for the No. 13 jersey. Averaging 147 run metres and 29 tackles over the first two rounds, the 24-year-old impressed again on Thursday with a team-high 134 metres and 42 tackles.
Cowboys checking boxes earlier than last season
It took a while for the Cowboys to connect the dots last season, but they have certainly turned things around in 2016. It took four weeks to register a single win and 26 rounds for the team to register a legitimate 80-minute performance, but both have been achieved by week three this year.
“That was one of our goals, to try and play that whole 80 minutes. I think there were a few little lapses where we dropped some balls and threw some silly passes and stuff like that,” Lachlan Coote said after the game.
“But we held onto [the ball] well, we defended our line well and it’s a credit to our front line.”