After leaking 56 points in the last two weeks the North Queensland Cowboys are delighted to have limited the South Sydney Rabbitohs to just one try at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville on Friday night.
It was an aspect of their game the Cowboys had worked on throughout the week and five-eighth Michael Morgan was pleased to see the hard work pay off.
"Although we won last week we leaked 26 points which isn't good enough, so we were lucky to come away with the win last week from that point of view… I thought overall it was a good defensive effort but still a bit sloppy at times," Morgan said.
The Cowboys are happy to be doing so well given the number of suspensions and injuries they've sustained over the opening five rounds. The closeness of their victories is also evident in their for-and-against, which sits at just three after beating the Rabbitohs by 14 points. This is in stark contrast to the other teams in the top four, with the Melbourne Storm on +32, the Sydney Roosters on +28 and the Manly Sea Eagles on +36.
"Obviously very happy to be four from five… as long as we keep improving," Morgan said.
"I think what's been good at times, we're playing really well, we're defending well… we're just not doing it for long enough periods of time."
According to Morgan the Cowboys' return to good defensive form can be attributed to a good attitude, as well as the return of first-pick fullback Lachlan Coote – who made a try-saving strip, kicked a 40-20, assisted Gideon Gela-Mosby's try and shut down several of Adam Reynolds' grubbers and bombs.
"'Cooty' has been there for a few years now playing that role so he's a lot more comfortable and a lot clearer with his role," Morgan said.
"It was good to have 'Cooty' back tonight and have a bit of direction and defensively on our goal line he was really good again."