Backing up from Origin on Wednesday night, players are usually lethargic, somewhat tired and given breathers throughout the game. Try telling that to North Queensland Cowboys prop Matt Scott, who has produced a fantastic performance in his side’s last-minute come-from-behind win.
In a game that went down to the wire with the Cowboys scoring on the final play of the game through Gavin Cooper, it was Scott who led the way early as he scored a rare double.
He was untouchable as he made metres at will, broke the line and scored twice seemingly with ease and proving a handful on every occasion for the Manly defence.
It was a valiant effort by the hulking front-rower, who just three days ago, was playing for QLD in a brutal State of Origin clash.
The 18-14 win means the Cowboys have now won nine games in a row and in an ominous sign for rival clubs, at a crucial point of the season, the club only seem to be getting better and more clinical.
It very nearly did not materialise, however, as early errors ended up costing the Cowboys and it was Manly who pounced and scored several early tries.
The Manly forwards played well and they helped set the tone for much of the Manly attack, as the Sea Eagles took the early ascendancy in the clash.
There were some jitters and nerves from the Cowboys throughout the game that almost resulted in a loss but their defence held resolute and they held on for the win, one that sends out further warning bells to rival teams.
Cowboys coach Paul Green says close wins are a testament to the team and praised his side’s confidence levels.
“(Winning by a close margin) is certainly a good sign,” coach Paul Green said.
“Teams that have that confidence in each otherâ€¦ don’t panic. We didn’t panic but we looked for things that weren’t there either.
“It was a really good effort defensively considering all the ball we gave them.
“It was great composure from ‘Johnno’ (Thurston) to make the play at the end there, but also give Jakey Granville a massive rap; he created the break there for Cootey which gave us a chance to win the game.”
Whilst they do languish towards the bottom of the ladder, Manly have improved over the course of the season and they have not given up on a potential top 8 berth.
“We will dig ourselves out of it,” vowed Manly coach, Geoff Toovey.
“We are well on the way to doing that as you can see in the way we play. I’ve said in the last couple of weeks that we were probably unlucky to lose both of those matches.
“But it’s reality and we need to brush ourselves off and work hard and take on Brisbane (next week) who are in pretty good form.”
Player of the Game:
3. Matt Scott
2. Gavin Cooper
1. Brett Stewart
North Queensland Cowboys 18 (Matt Scott 2 tries, Gavin Cooper tries; Johnathan Thurston 3 goals) defeated Manly Sea Eagles 14 (Jorge Taufua 2, Tom Trbojevic tries, goals) at 1300SMILES Stadium. Crowd: 14,196. Half-time: Sea Eagles 8-6.