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Cowboys coach delivers scathing assessment after Broncos loss

Kotoni Staggs Scoring A Try In Broncos v Cowboys game
Kotoni Staggs scoring in the 18th minute of the Brisbane Broncos vs North Queensland Cowboys match in round four of the 2024 NRL season.

North Queensland Cowboys coach Todd Payten didn’t hold back following his team’s tough 38-12 loss to the Brisbane Broncos in the Queensland derby for round four of the 2024 NRL season.

He expressed his disappointment with how the team played, their struggles, and missed chances.

“We gave our opponents too many opportunities in our own half,” Payten said.

“That kind of performance wouldn’t even cut it against the Temora Dragons.

“You can’t expect to beat an attacking side like the Broncos if you keep giving them chances.”

Payten pointed out some issues, such as the team’s completion rate of 56% and a concerning total of 17 errors, which was 11 more than what the Brisbane Broncos made.

He also mentioned their inability to build momentum after plays, citing a missed chance following an impressive play by Tommy Dearden.

“That moment could have changed the game for us,” Payten explained.

“We had an opening to turn things around.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t seize it.”

Payten also talked about the challenges the team faced in dealing with Broncos halfback Adam Reynolds, whose kicking skills played a role in their defeat.

Reynolds’ high kicks and accurate kicks consistently added pressure on Cowboys fullback Scott Drinkwater, resulting in mistakes and missed chances.

Expressing frustration with how kickers are protected in today’s game, Payten believes that defenders should be able to put more pressure on them.

He argued that without the ability to pressure kickers, it becomes difficult to disrupt their strategies.

“Putting pressure on kickers doesn’t matter anymore,” Payten emphasised.

“Kickers are aware they won’t be tackled, so they don’t hesitate with their kicks.

“I think challenging them head on is the way.

“It’s the way to throw them off because if you approach from the side they know they’re safe soon as the ball leaves their foot.”

While acknowledging the importance of player safety, Payten stressed that receivers must fulfil their roles in handling kicks.

He also highlighted the team’s tackling issues, noting that the North Queensland Cowboys missed 34 tackles compared to the Broncos’ 23.

“We need to step up our defence,” Payten said.

“We’re putting a lot of pressure on our players in the midfield but some teams can still defend well despite making mistakes.”

Payten stressed the importance of work and progress in the weeks to come.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said.

“We have two days of training scheduled for this week, along with a captain’s run.

“We need to make some changes.”

The Cowboys are tipped to redeem themselves in round five against the injury-struck Gold Coast Titans, with the top NRL bookmakers offering $1.20 for North Queensland to win.

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