Cowboys hurt Raiders again
Last week I wrote about how the Brisbane Broncos were both the Cowboys’ great rival and their bogey team.
No matter what the form guide said, the best the Cowboys could do from coming into the NRL in 1995 until September 2004 was steal a draw against their city cousins.
The Canberra Raiders don’t really have a great rival. Back in the early 1990′s you could argue their great rival was the Broncos on account of at least one of the two winning all bar one premiership between 1989 and 1994, but since then, continued mediocrity (occasional inspiration in 2003 and 2010 notwithstanding) and a lack of local derbies means there’s no one that could really be termed great rivals as such.
What they do have, however is a bogey team – the Cowboys.
It’s partially the results: Canberra have won just three of their last 10 matches against the Cowboys, with none in Townsville since 2006. It’s a welcome change for Cowboys’ fans who are still 11-18 against the Green Machine, but not the reason for bogey team status.
Nope, the reason the Cowboys are Canberra’s bogey team is the injury list.
Consider this: the last two matches the teams played Canberra didn’t finish with a full bench. At Canberra Stadium in 2011 the Raiders led 22-0 in the first half before injuries to Josh Dugan and Terry Campese – playing his one and only game for the season – left the Raiders two short. They were eventually over-run 24-40.
Earlier this year it happened again: this time forwards Brett White and Joel Thompson went off injured as the Cowboys managed a 22-6 win, again at Canberra Stadium.
So surely third time lucky for the Raiders?
Joel Thompson again failed to finish a match against the Cowboys with a broken knuckle; Trevor Thurling sustained a shoulder injury; while star back Dugan suffered a suspected broken ankle late in the match.
For the Cowboys it was a solid win after co-captain Matthew Scott pulled out following his mother’s passing earlier in the week. Stories of Diane Scott driving up to eight hours return for junior matches from the remote town of Ilfracombe showed the justification for the NRL’s Women in League Round.
Cowboys veteran Matty Bowen furthered his State of Origin claims with another strong performance; not scoring any tries himself but throwing the last pass in four of his team’s seven tries. Back in 2005, much of the excitement around the Cowboys came from his combination with Johnathan Thurston. This year they’re back better than ever causing havoc around the edge of the ruck.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, the Cowboys seem to do more to them than just cause havoc around the ruck. The injury curse hurts the Raiders long after the Cowboys have.