It was just a month ago when the North Queensland Cowboys were in danger of missing the finals and needed a stellar run of form to even come into consideration for a finals berth.
Fast forward a month, however and the Cowboys have four straight wins, with the fourth and last coming yesterday evening in a comfortable 26-6 win over the Newcastle Knights.
With in-form winger Kyle Feldt out, it was a debutant winger who made an immediate impact, one Wayne Ulugia, another Cowboys player with big praises and a fan favourite.
The game looked quite even at one stage as it went back and forth and the Knights managed to wrestle back some of the momentum, before the Cowboys kicked away and eventually lead by 14 at one stage after a Johnathan Thurston penalty goal.
It only got worse for the Knights, though, with prop Kade Snowden sent off and put on report for a sickening shoulder charge on Ray Thompson, that left the Cowboys hooker dazed and with a broken jaw.
With the win moving the Cowboys into the eight and with the plan to now stay there, Neil Henry is not about to get ahead of himself and knows that there are some tough games ahead for his side.
“We need to control the possession,” he said.
“Our edges have to work very hard and our men in the middle have got to do free online casino bounuses a job, so very happy with that defensive commitment which has been there for probably a month now.”
With an immediate concern over Thompson and his injury, Henry said the club will not know any more about it until Sunday.
“He’s certainly been a big part of our momentum through the middle,” he said.
“It’s disappointing, it takes the gloss off a win when you get an injury like that.”
Knights coach Wayne Bennett, who often calls it like he sees it, admits that the decision to send off Snowden was fair.
“I’m disappointed for Kade and disappointed for the boy that’s injured, Ray Thompson, I hate to see that and there was no malice there,” he said.
“It was obviously reckless, but it was unintentional.”
Bennett also admitted that his side’s intensity was not in question as they started the game well, but it was instead their heads going down later on in the game that played a part in the loss.
“From our point of view we started as good as they did, but made the unforced error and gave them six points. Our start was as good as I have seen us start,” he said.
“They went back-to-back on the tries and that was the killing part.
“We started the second half really good and scored the first points there and then fell apart again.”
3. Matt Bowen
2. James Tamou
1. Wayne Ulugia