North Queensland say the won’t use the pain of being controversially bounced out of the last two finals campaigns as motivation in the 2014 playoffs.
They’re on a roll and the Cowboys are adamant that they – not the referees – hold the key to their fate in the NRL finals.
North Queensland enter the playoffs with genuine title claims after winning seven of their last eight games including victories over heavyweights Canterbury, South Sydney and Manly.
It will be the Cowboys’ fourth consecutive finals campaign, and their fans can’t forget that the last two were wrecked by controversial refereeing decisions.
In 2012, it was the ‘hand of God’ try in which Manly’s Kieran Foran clearly knocked the ball on in the lead up to a Jorge Taufua try.
Video referees Steve Clark and Paul Simpkins flashed up the green light and the Cowboys’ season was over.
Then in 2013 it was the infamous seven-tackle try by Cronulla’s Beau Ryan that cost the Cowboys the game as they went on to lose 20-18.
Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott insists the players won’t carry baggage from those losses into this year’s finals and reckons the best way to avoid any repeat is to play well enough that one bad decision doesn’t change the result.
“Hopefully we’ve learned from those losses,” said Scott after his team’s 30-16 demolition of Manly on Saturday night that denied the Sea Eagles the minor premiership.
“We know we could have been better in the games the last couple of years.
“Decisions might have gone against us but ultimately it’s in our hands.”
He was backed up by forward Glenn Hall, who said those controversial exits were “in the past”.
“I don’t think last year will come into it at all,” he said.
“The way we’ve approached this year, especially the last few weeks, it’s just been a week at a time.
“That’s how we’ll approach the semi-finals.
“It was a good win tonight, but they had a lot of players out too. We’ll do our best next week.”
Scott said they would need to keep that momentum rolling into the finals.
“We’ve got to use it,” he said.
“We’ve got to keep improving, that’s the main thing.
“There’s a lot of teams with momentum, a lot of teams in form in the top eight.
“It’s just about getting better from here on.”