Cowboys must improve to win
North Queensland have claimed three big scalps on their way towards a grand final appearance against Melbourne, but the underdogs believe they can, and will have to, improve to beat the clinical Storm.
The Toyota Cowboys have proved they can step up a gear, having put in better and better performances since Week 1 of the finals, when they edged the Cronulla Sharks in extra time, before going on to man-handle the Parramatta Eels in the semi-final and outlast the Roosters in the preliminary final on Saturday night.
Captain Gavin Cooper is confident that even the brilliant Michael Morgan can find improvement when he comes up against his opposite number, Cooper Cronk.
"Last night was just another step up the ladder that he's climbed over the last six months," Cooper said of the Cowboys' star half.
"He knows how to control a game of footy and we're playing against a team this week, against Cooper Cronk who is probably the benchmark for controlling a game of footy, so we're going to have our work cut out for us."
The captain puts his side's improvement down to learning from their own mistakes, and their win over the Roosters was a prime example of that.
In Round 21 of the regular season the Cowboys led the Sydney side comfortably at half-time, only to be run down in the second half.
"That game that happened last night was the exact same game that happened six weeks ago, but we learned from that experience where the Roosters came home strong in the second half and blew us off the park," Cooper said.
"We spoke about it all week that we knew that everything would be going against us and it did, they got on a roll on a couple of times and were kicking down into a corner and making 80 metres in a set.
"Our defence has been working really well but last night we really muscled up in areas that we had to when the Roosters got a roll on."
The Cowboys will enjoy grand final week for the second time in three seasons as they aim to replicate the formula that took them to glory in 2015.
First published on NRL.com.