Cowboys v Raiders: Five key points
Cowboys' new-look forward rotation fires, Taumalolo picks up where he left off and the Raiders show great determination in defence. The key talking points from North Queensland's golden point win over Canberra.
Cowboys' new forward rotation fires
There have been looming doubts over the ability of the Cowboys' new young forwards to step up to the level of Ben Hannant and James Tamou, which seemed to have been silenced after their Round 1 performance. Speaking to the media post-match, coach Paul Green was still pushing for improvement.
"I was pretty happy with how they went there, again I think we can be better it was probably a pretty typical Round 1 performance, good without being great," Green said.
Bench forward Coen Hess was pleased that the rotation set them up well for back-end of the game.
"I think we only used two interchanges in the first half. It was good come second half we had a few interchanges up our sleeve so we could have our big guys nice and fresh in the important parts of the game," Hess said.
Taumalolo picks up where he left off
The New Zealand international and 2016 Dally M medallist ran for more than 250 metres, despite not expecting to come into Round 1 so strongly. "I didn't think I'd be starting off where I was last year. I just wanted to build my way into that in the first couple of weeks," Taumalolo said following the golden point win.
Despite his performance Taumalolo said he can still improve in the coming weeks.
"The body out there was struggling a bit, I started cramping for a while. Hopefully a few more games I'll get used to the impact and the long minutes," the North Queensland lock added.
Raiders gutsy in defence
A team that was known for its attacking performance last year showed that it has true defensive spine in Townsville.
"We didn't get the two points, but we got a lot out of that as a footy team," a proud Ricky Stuart said following the loss.
The Raiders finished the game with only 32 per cent of the possession, and Stuart was happy that the game was as close as it was.
"They had enough possession and enough play go their way tonight… it was an amazing effort."
Raiders need discipline
"Some of the things that happened out there tonight, I just shake my head," Stuart said following the loss.
But no amount of refereeing error can account for the 14 errors and 11 penalties against the Raiders. If they want to be in the top four at the end of the year they need to hold the ball and improve offensively, and maintain the defensive zeal they showed tonight. The return of captain Jarrod Croker and prop Junior Paulo will go a long way towards that, and they'll be a force to be reckoned with if they can complete at a rate above 80 per cent.
Referees use the sin bin
They've said they'll use it – and they have – but the opinions on the sin bin on Saturday night will be split down the middle, with Cowboys fans fuming that Joey Leilua wasn't given 10 minutes for his strike on Gavin Cooper and Raiders fans devastated that Clay Priest was sent at all. Stuart was unhappy with the call, saying that while he didn't want to be critical of referees, the sin bin for "repeated infringements" was incorrect.
"They don't become… repeated infringements if the opposition gets penalised for what you're getting penalised for," Stuart said.
Paul Green seemed indifferent to either call, saying that the referees were there to facilitate the game.
"[Leilua] also set up a try for us too… so it evens itself out."