North Queensland's top-four hopes slipping away
North Queensland's top four aspirations are quickly slipping away following Friday night's 22-20 loss to Wests Tigers, with coach Neil Henry admitting the team is floundering.
The Cowboys fumed at several contentious decisions which went against them in the last-gasp loss at Leichhardt Oval, but still had enough chances to put the injury-ravaged Tigers away.
But they couldn't.
From 11 games, the Cowboys have just four wins and their current three-game losing streak has the pre-season fancies flirting with the bottom four rather than the top.
And it's not good enough for Henry who is worried their season is on a dangerous slide.
"We've either got to start winning or our season starts going out the back door pretty rapidly," Henry said.
"We can't dwell on it too much.
"... We're still shooting ourselves in the foot at the moment with some of the fundamental mistakes we're making after working so hard in other parts of our game which keeps us in games.
"We need to get that consistency in our decision-making and take some errors out of our game.
"I'm confident we're a good team. But at the moment we're floundering a bit."
When asked if he felt the Cowboys had done enough to win the game, co-captain Matt Scott said matter-of-factly: "We did enough to lose it."
"We're finding ways to lose games. That's the difference at the moment," he added.
"We need to find a way to take advantage of the footy we're playing because we're getting great field position.
"There's not too many times when we're getting hemmed in our own set.
"We're getting into good ball on lots of occasions. It's just frustrating.
"We're pretty much handing points away."
It's not what is expected of a club that boasts the Australian front row, of Scott and James Tamou, and arguably the world's best player in Johnathan Thurston - as well as other Origin stars Matt Bowen, Brent Tate and a future rep player Tariq Sims.
Most alarmingly for the Cowboys is the very real prospect of losing Thurston, Scott, Tamou and possibly Tate to State of Origin duties in over the next two months.
Players selected for Origin game one will be unavailable for next Sunday's all-important clash with Gold Coast, as well as a fixture against Manly before game three.
"We're going to need to dig deep in this next period and strive to get a result against the Titans," Henry said.
"They'll have a few men out as well and we'll need people to step up while our men are away.
"That's our next challenge."