Patience pays off for Cowboys
Down 8-6 at halftime despite having 58 per cent of possession against an underwhelming Gold Coast Titans outfit, it would have been easy for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys to let frustration creep into their performance.
But without star playmaker Johnathan Thurston, and with a good spray from coach Paul Green at halftime, the Cowboys maintained their composure and went on to not only win the game, but improve in the second half, finishing the match with 62 per cent of possession and a 20-6 score line.
It's a testament to the team's development, as well as to stand-in halfback Michael Morgan's own improvement when it comes to leading from the front. Morgan racked up 120 run metres, a try, a try assist and a line break to lead his side to victory, and looked dangerous every time he held the ball.
According to Cowboys coach Paul Green the patience that saw them through the game on Saturday night was something they had in previous years, but have struggled to find in the first half of 2017.
"'Morgs' in particular controlled the game really well there, I thought his kicking game was good. Still a couple of little areas that we need to get better in, but the last three games in particular we've improved in that area," Green said.
"This year we haven't shown enough [patience], certainly not consistently anyway. But that was a strength of our win tonight, I think we showed that patience and just kept playing footy and asking good questions and hanging in there defensively and we got the rewards at the back end."
The win came largely off the back of Morgan's efforts as he backed up from State of Origin I, an effort he has struggled with in previous years. The Queensland bench utility made a point of turning his repeat performances around this year.
"Last year was a bit frustrating for me after both the games I had. I didn't back up after either and the year before I wasn't really happy with how I did back up. It's something that I wanted to be better at," Morgan said.
"This week getting back here I was excited for that challenge to try and play well and it was good to come away with the win."
Morgan's form has improved since he played for Australia in the Anzac Test, and credits a discussion with Melbourne Storm halfback Cooper Cronk for helping to improve his form.
"[Cronk] gave me a little bit of advice and it was really good. I got to go down there and think about it more and be clearer going back with what I was doing," Morgan said.
"He gave me a few tips even with the ball-playing side of it as well which helps. He's a smart footballer and a really good bloke and he was more than happy to help me out.
"He was the one who came up to me and started talking to me about it so I'm very grateful for it."
First published on NRL.com.