Cavalry set to ignite Cowboys finals push: Townsend
A bogey-ending victory over the Sydney Roosters and a timely return of key personnel is set to ignite North Queensland's finals push, as co-captain Chad Townsend looks for a simple "copy and paste" in round 11.
The Cowboys ended a five-game losing streak against the Roosters with a gritty and previously unseen defensive performance in 2023 in the 20-6 Magic Round win.
Townsend scored one of three tries as the Cowboys held their opposition scoreless for almost the remainder of the match, in a defensive display moulded by a brutal week at training.
Placed 14th on the ladder and just two wins shy of a top-eight spot, Townsend is adamant a cavalry of soon-to-be fit players will spur his side into a late-season push.
The Cowboys face St George Illawarra at home before jetting to Sydney to take on cellar-dwellers Wests Tigers in round 12.
A tantalising rematch of last year's preliminary final against Parramatta takes the Cowboys through May and then Melbourne Storm beckon at home as they enter their first bye of the year.
Yet to name a full strength side in 2023, the Cowboys co-skipper is licking his lips at a schedule he says they must capitalise on.
"We've still got some guys to come back in headed by Jason (Taumalolo), whose rehab is going really well," Townsend said.
"You throw in Griffin (Neame) and Luciano (Leilua) and they're going to add another dimension to our game."
"I feel like the weekend's game can really kick start us into the back end of the year.
"Our challenge is to copy and paste that performance from the Roosters and bring it into the Dragons who are pretty much just as desperate as we are."
Cowboys coach Todd Payten has named an unchanged lineup for just the second time this year for Saturday's home fixture.
Round 10 debutant Kulikefu Finefeuiaki gets another crack off the bench and Townsend said the young wrecking-ball's debut performance took him back to his own maiden start in 2011.
"I said to him midweek just make sure you soak it all in because you only get one NRL debut. Take some time to reflect on your journey, how your family have helped you, what you've done and your sacrifices to get there," he added.
"He deserved his opportunity. He's been great at training, had some great games in the Queensland Cup, he's very aggressive and got all those key attributes of a wide running back rower.
"I'm excited to have him in the team."