There is the belief out there that the North Queensland Cowboys were unable to win without star play-maker Jonathan Thurston but those beliefs are dispelled, as they held on for victory without Thurston and their Origin stars.
The hard-fought 18-12 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons will give the Cowboys confidence and self-belief that 2015 can be a special year for the club.
Just last week, the Cowboys had their 11-game winning streak snapped but in a crucial time to record wins, they hung on to win minus their Origin stars at WIN Stadium.
On the flipside, the loss is now the Dragons’ fourth loss in a row and although they were also missing key players due to Origin and injuries, the slide is concerning for fans.
The platform was laid by the running and efforts of the Cowboys forwards, leading to a double from Kane Linnett.
The Dragons had two new debutants in their side, with mid-season signings Mark Ioane and Luke Page both playing, with Ioane producing tremendous impact from the bench.
There was a further concern for the Dragons, as local junior Yaw Kiti Glymin injured his hamstring in his debut game.
Knowing how tough the Origin period is, Cowboys coach Paul Green was impressed with the way the players responded.
“The Origin period is always tough period for us and that’s our last game without the boysâ€¦ now we can regroup,” Green said.
“This is a massive win for us given the players we had out.
“Regardless of whoever comes in and wears the jersey they know they’ve got a job to do.
“It’s huge for the team’s confidence.”
Although Dragons coach Paul McGregor was not using it as an excuse, he knows that missing 9 regular first-graders makes winning games harder.
“We had nine players in our regular side not playing and 10 guys who started the year in the NSW cup,” McGregor said.
“It was a tough week for all but we certainly went out and played with the right commitment.
“Obviously the guys haven’t played much together.
“We had two guys [Mark Ioane and Luke Page] join us on Wednesday and they played for us on Saturday.”
Player of the Game:
3. Jake Granville
2. Lachlan Coote
1. Mark Ioane