Stat Attack: Errors bringing Cowboys undone

In 2015 when the Cowboys won 12 games in a row, coach Paul Green noted that just as losing can become habitual, so can winning.

Unfortunately for North Queensland, the flip side to Green's theory is also being proved this season.

Given the way they went down to the Eels in Darwin on Saturday it seems apparent that the Cowboys are finding it hard to get out of the trend of contributing to their own downfall.

Sitting in 14th place with a 3-10 record, including four losses from their past five outings, back-rower Gavin Cooper said the Cowboys were working overtime to get out of their rut.

"It's not an attitude thing, it's a mental thing now, it's been happening for too long, all the good stuff we've been able to dig ourselves out of in the past we seem to have forgotten about that," Cooper said.

"We've forgotten about all the good footy we're capable of and we're stepping back to just simple under 9s errors and stuff like that.

"It's frustrating, it's hard to put your finger on, but winning is a habit and so is losing, and we've found a way to make losing a habit lately."

The Cowboys led the league in completion rates and run metres last season but errors and poor yardage out of their back five in particular have come back to haunt them this year.

While they haven't conceded more penalties than the average NRL side in 2018 they have leaked them at the wrong times, while coughing up the second most errors in the league and producing the second fewest tries and run metres from their outside backs.

A major contributor to their poor performances appears to have been pent-up frustration, which often releases itself in the form of errors or penalties, and at crucial times these have led to points against North Queensland.

"It's frustration, errors compound and you see the frustration build and then when you work really hard to get back into the game like we did on the weekend, going in at half-time at 4-4 I don't think we needed really pretty football in the second half," Cooper said.

"Coming out after half-time talking about our errors and then we drop two out of our first five sets and you think to yourself 'when is this going to change?' and it didn't change."

If the Cowboys can show patience against the Warriors this Friday in Townsville they'll be in with a chance, having showed they have the power in the middle to match the best packs in the Telstra Premiership.

Their defence will need to take a step up, as 20 points against the last-placed Eels could easily equate to more against the fourth-placed Warriors.

"[We've got to] hold the ball and build a game, it's pretty simple," Cooper said.

"That second half on the weekend if we had held the ball we would have been in with a shot.

"I know we scored two tries in a minute and a half at the end of the game to make the scoreboard look respectable but for the most part I think it was 50%-ish completion rate on the weekend.

"The Warriors are playing some good footy as well and they will continue to play good footy if we keep giving them the ball."