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22 Jan 2018 9:28
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Cowboys typify resolute spirit to survive

    There are no limits to how many times North Queensland's NRL season should have been over already, but they will somehow play in a semi-final next week.

    - article from www.rugbyleague.co.nz

    North Queensland have every reason to be enjoying the end-of-season holiday but instead they will ride their festive NRL finals spirit into next week's semi-final with Parramatta.

    The Cowboys' season looked shot on Sunday afternoon against Cronulla but for the umpteenth time this year they soldiered on in the face of adversity and claimed a 15-14 extra-time victory.

    They entered the first week of the finals aiming to become the first eighth-placed team to survive to the second week since the introduction of the system in 2012.

    The Cowboys still have the most expensive casualty ward of all teams in the finals with co-captains and Test players Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott sitting on the sidelines.

    They won just one of their past six games -- their worst end to a regular season since 2010 -- and only survived the final round because Canterbury shocked St George Illawarra.

    "We were supposed to be cannon fodder in the finals," coach Paul Green said.

    "We've shown character, we've never rolled over which I'm really proud of the players from that point of view."

    The Cowboys looked dead and buried on three different occasions on Sunday.

    They trailed 8-0, 14-6, and then 14-12 with just minutes left at Allianz Stadium, before Ethan Lowe slotted over a penalty goal to send the match into extra time, when Michael Morgan stepped up.

    "There's plenty of improvement left in us too which is good," Green said.

    "We've got the belief that we can beat anyone."

    Morgan's winning field goal capped off a fantastic run for the Cowboys halfback, who has assumed so much of the playmaking duties since Thurston (shoulder) was ruled out for the season in June.

    At that point, North Queensland's season was meant to be over.

    Instead, the 2015 premiers will return to Sydney next Saturday to face the Eels, who will use their top-four second chance after they were beaten 18-16 by Melbourne on Saturday.

    The winner of that will then face Sydney Roosters -- who beat Brisbane 24-22 in the first game of weekend -- in a preliminary final.

    Meanwhile, Cronulla's Shane Flanagan became the third coach to blast officials in his post-match press conference.

    The dejected coach read out a prepared list of referee calls he felt hurt his side, who join the long list of defending premiers since 1993 who have failed to defend their title in the unified competition.

    It came after Parramatta coach Brad Arthur also said the bunker was the difference in his loss to Melbourne, while Manly mentor Trent Barrett let loose at officials after his side's 22-10 loss to Penrith.

    The result bumped the Sea Eagles out of the finals, and propelled Penrith into a sudden-death semi-final against Brisbane next Friday night, with the winner to face Melbourne in the other preliminary final.

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity


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