The new year has rolled over and we are soon to enter into a whole new NRL season full of triumph, disappointment, scandal, shocks, success and failure.
It has been a pretty hectic couple of weeks in rugby league. In fact, it’s been pretty hectic since the State of Origin decider.
After the Origin decider, I was looking forward to the next few weeks for the North Queensland Cowboys. The Cowboys had the bye before a couple of matches that would give us an indication of whether they were fair dinkum premiership contenders in 2012.
Or, as they were last year, merely fated to provide a top team with a practise run in the first week of the finals.
The first of these games was probably the hardest: Melbourne Storm in Melbourne. Despite being without Billy Slater, the Storm were favourites for this match, not least because the Cowboys had a dreadful 18-6 record against them.
I won’t bore you with the details, but it was a very pleasant surprise to find out that the Cowboys finished 20-16 winners.
Onwards then to Monday Night Football against the Wests Tigers. Since qualifying for the finals for the first time ever with a win against the Tigers in 2004, the Cowboys have had a poor record, with just two wins in their last 10 matches against the 2005 premiers.
The first half was as entertaining as you’d expect from two highly skilled attacking teams. The Tigers at one point led 16-10, only for Brent Tate to cross just before half-time and level the scores. Soon after the break Anthony Mitchell scored to give the Cowboys the lead.
It was a lead they held onto before adding a Matt Bowen field goal, Gavin Cooper try and Johnathan Thurston conversion for the eventual 29-16 scoreline.
So two wins in two matches against two clubs that traditionally held the wood over us. While it’s good news for Cowboys fans, it is not to say we’re guaranteed to keep our top-four spot through to the finals.
When your run home is Bulldogs (away), Manly (home), Warriors (h), Dragons (a), Knights (h) and Sharks (a), you take nothing for granted.
However, two from two since the bye has me feeling a little optimistic for the boys from the north.