Paul Green faces a huge challenge to turn the Cowboys’ season around. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Paul Green faces a huge challenge to turn the Cowboys’ season around. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Misfiring Cowboys’ finals hopes fading

A DEJECTED Paul Green has conceded the Cowboys are lacking the knockout punch in attack after slumping to an 18-8 loss to the Canberra Raiders which has left their finals hopes in tatters.

The Cowboys spent almost 20 minutes attacking Canberra's line, forcing four dropouts, but they struggled to turn that field position into points with just the one try to Gavin Cooper in the first half.

The home side had 55 per cent of possession and won the penalty count 9-5, but the Raiders made the most of their fewer opportunities as Josh Papalii, Aidan Sezer, and Siliva Havili crossed for tries.

Attack has been an issue for the Cowboys all season, having the most tackles inside the opposition 20m with 36.7 per game, but they're scoring just 15.5 points - the equal third worst strike rate.

North Queensland's unhappy night against the Raiders was summed up when Michael Morgan broke clear in the 69th minute only for the out-of-form five-eighth to spill the ball with the tryline in sight.

Green seemed lost for words at times during the post-match press conference, with the coach admitting that the Raiders didn't need to play particularly well to beat his misfiring Cowboys.

"We didn't get beaten by brilliant footy if you like, it was pretty simple stuff," Green said.

"When you're struggling for form or confidence it's amazing how many of those plays are just off the mark. It takes a lot to fight your way out of that and I think that was probably the case.

"I thought they (Canberra) were just clinging on and we got plenty of opportunities in that second half, but we just couldn't throw the knockout punch.

"We just manage to find the wrong decision at the moment. I think across the board we just need to simplify things and get back to what we do best."

Co-captain Matt Scott felt the Cowboys had been beaten on effort by a desperate Raiders side which was also looking to overcome a poor 2-5 start to the season.

"They just wanted to win more than us at times. It's just disappointing defensively," Scott said.

"Our effort was there, I think it's just in certain areas, whether we're not quite trying hard enough or not quite doing our job well enough that's letting us down.

"It's extremely frustrating. We've been training as hard as we can, we're putting all the effort in during the week.

"No one at this club wants to be in this position, but at the moment we're just not finding a way to get out of it which we need to do very quickly."

The loss sees North Queensland's record slip to 2-6 as they prepare for tough back-to-back road trips against the Panthers in Bathurst and the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.