Cowboys predict another NRL derby classic

Another classic NRL derby has been predicted by North Queensland but Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott admits he won’t be using Brisbane as a yardstick for their title defence.

Test prop Scott found it hard to put his finger on why the Queensland clash produced so many thrillers ahead of Friday night’s NRL sudden-death semi-final in Townsville.

History shows the past three Queensland derbies have been decided by one point including last year’s stunning 17-16 golden-point premiership triumph by the Cowboys.

The only other time that had occurred in premiership history was way back in 1927-28 between Glebe and North Sydney.

And Scott did not rule out another cliffhanger on Friday night.

“I guess we bring the best out of each other,” Scott said of the NRL grand final re-match.

The Cowboys’ battering ram was more certain of who provided a timely gauge for their title defence – and it wasn’t Brisbane.

“I think Melbourne are the yardstick. They have lifted to another level,” Scott said.

“They are playing a better brand of footy.

“Cooper Cronk and Cam Smith’s kicking game is probably the best in the business.

“They are probably the best team in the competition.”

Scott said lessons learned from last week’s opening 16-10 finals loss in Melbourne had steeled them to become the first team to defend a title in the NRL era.

“Melbourne have probably taught us that lesson a few times and we haven’t learned from it,” he said of last week’s AAMI Park loss.

“They are a good team at controlling field position, possession and playing under pressure.

“We played well for long periods but then made crucial errors that took the pressure off them.

“It was a performance that would have won 80 to 90 per cent of our regular-season games.

“But it was never going to win against Melbourne or from here on in.

“We have to be better at building pressure and maintaining possession.”

Scott agreed with Brisbane’s claim that the Cowboys had everything to play for on Friday night – something he reckoned the team were now getting used to.

“The pressure has been on us all year,” he said.

“Teams have lifted against us.

“Even something simple like completion rates – teams are five to 10 per cent better than their season average against us.

“That’s something you have to deal with as defending premiers.

“We know we have to lift again on Friday night – it’s do or die.”

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