Green hails Cowboys' passion in NRL win

Pamela Whaley
Paul Green is a relieved coach after North Queensland's upset 32-20 home NRL win over Newcastle

North Queensland coach Paul Green cut a relieved figure on Saturday night after snapping a three-game NRL losing streak which had heaped pressure on his position.

A week after the Cowboys were embarrassed by a 34-0 first-half breakdown against the Wests Tigers, they piled on an unanswered 26 points in the opening 40 minutes against the highly fancied Newcastle in Townsville.

"Whenever people question your care for the club and the jersey, that's what hurts the most, so the good thing about it was everyone owns last week's performance," Green said after the 32-20 win over the Knights.

"The only way we were going to answer the criticism was on the paddock."

Coming into the match, the Cowboys had not beaten a top-eight side, but had their eye on the Knights who had lost just one game to Melbourne across the first six rounds.

By contrast, North Queensland were struggling with just two wins, calling into question not only Green's position, but whether players had lost their passion for the club.

Green said the staff and playing group had collectively claimed responsibility for their performances and merely aimed to play for each other against the Knights.

"I'm extremely proud because a lot of people had a lot of questions over us and rightly so. Our performance was not acceptable last week but, if you really care, then where you show it is out on the paddock," he said.

"As I said all week, it wasn't about winning or losing. Newcastle is a good side. We could play well and get beaten by Newcastle.

"It wasn't about 'we've got to win this week to show we care' - it was about how we played.

"I thought we showed desperation, urgency, willingness to pay a price for your teammate and that's what we saw for most of the game."

Halfback Jake Clifford had his best game in the Cowboys' jersey, taking control of the kicking duties to set up Kyle Feldt for a try off a bomb and scoring one himself in the win.

And although star Jason Taumalolo dominated up front, Reece Robson, Tom Opacic and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow were dangerous around the ruck - the latter scoring his first NRL try.