North Queensland can’t keep relying on comebacks to win matches and will be found out come finals time if they do, prop James Tamou says.
Cruelled by a horrendous completion rate, the Cowboys were 18-0 down and in strife against Canberra at home on Saturday – but in a performance typical of their season, turned things around in the second half to run away with their 15th victory in 16 games.
It’s a characteristic of many an NRL premiership team to play poorly and still win, but it won’t wash with Tamou, who believes the Cowboys won’t become a legitimate threat until they learn to start games the way they finish them.
“A win’s a win, that’s been the feeling this whole year. We’ve come away from games winning and still felt there’s a lot more to do,” Tamou said.
“Now we’re nearing the end of the premiership we still haven’t figured out starts to games and completing our sets.
“Even though we won the game we came off a bit worried about that but we’ve got another chance to prove ourselves. Obviously we’ve got a lot to do.”
Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston says the likes of reigning premiers South Sydney and eternal contenders Melbourne are too ruthless to give opposition teams second chances.
North Queensland will face both those teams on the road as part of a tough five-match run to the finals, which kicks off this weekend in Townsville against the in-form Cronulla.
“There’s no doubt we need to learn to start better and that’s what we’re concentrating on,” Thurston said.
“The really good teams – like the teams we’re coming up against in the next month – they won’t allow us to get back into the game.
“I’m still confident we can score points and we can play well if we are behind but when you’re playing against high-quality teams, once they’ve got their foot on your throat they don’t let it off.
“It starts getting a lot harder then, you start going for plays that aren’t there and start making errors.”