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Cowboys dare to dream of NRL finals

Suddenly, North Queensland co-captain Johnathan Thurston doesn't mind sneaking a look at the NRL ladder.
Cowboys dare to dream of NRL finals
by AAP

By Laine Clark

BRISBANE, Aug 19 AAP - Suddenly, North Queensland co-captain Johnathan Thurston doesn't mind sneaking a look at the NRL ladder.

What made frustrating reading for most of 2013 is suddenly providing the Cowboys hope as they look to pull off an unlikely top eight finish.

The 11th-placed North Queensland are just one win outside the top eight and are the only team with a positive for-and-against amongst the sides scrambling for a last gasp finals berth.

Last month the Cowboys were so out of the finals mix their board told coach Neil Henry his services would not be required next year.

Three straight wins later and Thurston admitted North Queensland were daring to dream.

"I would be lying if I said I had not looked at the ladder," Thurston said.

"A couple of results went our way this week. We need to make the most of it.

"It's definitely in our own hands. Sure we need some results to go our way but we need to make sure we get the job done.

"If we do that hopefully we can scrape into the eight."

North Queensland would need to complete a club record six straight wins to pull off a finals miracle, and ensure blushes in the Cowboys boardroom.

But they will back themselves on their run home against seventh-placed Newcastle (home), Cronulla (sixth; away) and Wests Tigers (second last; home).

"The Knights will be a tough ask on Saturday night," Thurston said.

"But we are really enjoying our footy at the moment.

"Training has been fun and the boys have transferred that onto the playing field."

Thurston hinted that Newcastle would provide the biggest bump on their road to an unlikely finals berth.

They have not forgotten their last meeting - a 34-6 round three thumping at Hunter Stadium.

The Knights' back three of Akuila Uate (165m, two tries), Darius Boyd (101m, one try) and James McManus (105m, one try) ran amok in the Monday night clash.

"Their back is right up there in the best of the competition," Thurston said. "And last time we played (halfback) Jarrod Mullen was on fire. I think he kicked a few 40-20s and put us right under the pump."

North Queensland kept their improbable finals dream alive with a last round 22-10 win over Gold Coast despite a lousy 23/39 completion rate that limited them to 46 per cent of possession for the match.

Thurston could still find positives.

"We need to hold onto the ball and complete at a higher rate because sides like Newcastle will put us away," he said.

"But if we can take anything out of that we defended it, especially our errors.

"That's what we are doing, we are turning up for each other."




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