North Queensland will find their potential top four status temporarily revoked after being smashed by the Raiders 42-12 in Canberra.
Seething North Queensland captain Ashton Sims refused to blame Origin and injuries for his side’s seven-try 42-12 NRL thumping at the hands of the lowly Raiders.
Coming into the match on the back of three straight wins, the Cowboys will find their potential top four status temporarily revoked after a lacklustre performance in perfect Sunday afternoon conditions at Canberra Stadium.
The Cowboys lacked go-forward and penetration with Johnathan Thurston, Matthew Scott, James Tamou and Brent Tate away on Origin duties – not to mention Gavin Cooper and Cameron King out injured.
Yet it was their defence that was of major concern – missing 29 tackles in the loss.
“That’s not Cowboys 2014 football,” Sims said.
“We’re not using any excuses; injuries, Origin, nothing.
“There’s getting it done and not getting it done – and we didn’t get it done today.”
The Cowboys have lost their last four games played a week before an Origin match, and they’ve got another in round 17 against St George Illawarra.
However coach Paul Green said his side had to learn to deal with it.
“It’s huge. They’re our best players, our leaders,” he said.
“But that said, we worked pretty hard as a group to get to this point in the year and I was disappointed in some effort areas today.”
It was a stark contrast to the Raiders, who snapped their three game losing streak courtesy of two first half tries to outstanding centre Jack Wighton.
Skipper Terry Campese also stepped up to have a hand in several of his side’s seven tries, proving to his critics that he’s not done with the NRL just yet.
“The criticism the captain has copped has been quite frequent and some of it deserved,” coach Ricky Stuart said.
“Campo showed everyone today, when he performs that way, that the team is right behind him and we do well.”
Young Raiders playmaker Mitch Cornish was given his long-awaited NRL debut with 15 minutes to go, showing great promise with a willingness to run the ball and setting up Anthony Milford for the Raiders’ final try.
Meanwhile, Sonny Bill Williams starred for the Roosters against his old club the Bulldogs, ending their seven match winning streak with a 32-12 victory.
A first-half Dave Taylor hat-trick wasn’t enough for Gold Coast as the Warriors got up with a 24-16 win.
And a controversial late penalty to the Brisbane Broncos gave them a 16-14 victory over a Luke Brooks inspired Tigers.
Round 11 concludes on Monday when Cronulla hosts South Sydney at Remondis Stadium in another match missing a swag of Origin stars.