Storm wary of Cowboys’ pressure game

Billy Slater has warned Melbourne teammates they can’t afford to give pressure kings North Queensland an inch in the NRL grand final after an uncharacteristically wasteful display against Brisbane.

The Cowboys go into the Sunday premiership decider as massive underdogs but have already proven they can turn the screws on more fancied rivals in their upset wins over Cronulla, Parramatta and Sydney Roosters during the finals.

Despite missing key playmaker Johnathan Thurston, the Cowboys have simply strangled their opposition out of the contest, mainly due to the masterful control of playmaker Michael Morgan.

The Cowboys lead the league for completions (80 per cent) as well as forcing more drop outs (56) and enjoying more tackles inside the opposition 20 metres zone (954) than any other side this year, according to Fox Sports Stats .

Their ability to apply the blowtorch has the Storm on notice, especially after Melbourne’s at-times wayward showing in their preliminary final win over Brisbane on Friday night.

The minor premiers were guilty of inviting the Broncos into the game in the first half with skipper Cameron Smith giving away seven-tackle sets with his first two kicks.

Storm fullback Slater said while their defence was a highlight – after Brisbane were held scoreless for the first time in four seasons – they couldn’t afford to allow the Cowboys to dictate terms.

“Our kicking game wasn’t great on the weekend,” Slater told the Sunday Footy Show.

“I don’t remember a game where we’ve given away so many seven-tackle sets.

“There were probably four or five kicks which went dead. We can’t be giving the Cowboys a set with an extra tackle up their sleeve.

“We’ll be doing a lot of work on that this week.

“Our defensive game was something we were all proud of, it’s what we’ve been consistent at doing the whole season.

“If we continue that on Sunday night we’ll give ourselves every opportunity to win the game.”

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