North Queensland Cowboys coach Paul Green is counting the cost of his 22-20 loss on Saturday night to the Manly Sea Eagles after two more players went off with injury.
Mitch Dunn popped his shoulder with 15 minutes remaining in the match, then moments later Jordan McLean left the field with a hamstring injury.
Despite the two compounding the difficulty of the Cowboys' growing casualty ward, Green was positive he would still field a team that can compete, given more than a third of his squad is sidelined.
“What other choice do you have? You’ve just got to keep aiming up and we will, and the boys do, they have so far and I thought they did tonight,' Green said.
"I thought it was an incredibly brave effort, just needed to be a little bit smarter.”
It was a scrappy performance from both sides, handling errors the biggest concern, which Green thought was all right in the first half but not in the second, when they needed to get back in the game.
Match Highlights: Cowboys v Sea Eagles
“The second half we were pretty poor in terms of our ball control and a little bit frantic and panicked, rather than calm and composed," he said. "I think we lacked a bit of that tonight.”
Jason Taumololo continued his dominance by churning out an incredible 314 running metres and going the full 80 minutes.
With his team short on troops Green would love Taumalolo to keep playing the while match but he knows that is a huge ask.
“It depends on turnarounds and how he's feeling," the coach said.
"I’d be surprised if he could keep doing it week in, week out and that's not my plan. But just at this stage we’ve got some guys there backing up from Origin and it just gives a bit of flexibility around the interchange.
“We played the last 12 minutes with 12 men too, so it was a huge effort."
The loss broke a three-match winning streak for the club, but they will have the week at home before the Wests Tigers arrive for Friday night's match.
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Green is confident the failings of this week's loss can be corrected in time.
“Each time you string a win together you’re closer to a loss," Green said.
"I can't fault the effort. We just needed to be a little bit smarter there tonight and we’ve got to take the positives out of it but also learn our lessons from it too.”