Cowboys aim for Townsville turnaround - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cowboys aim for Townsville turnaround

By Jim Morton 24/04/2009 08:04:06 PM Comments (0)

Fuelling the Cowboys' desire to continue Manly's woes without Brett Stewart on Saturday night is a determination to turn around a woeful home record.

North Queensland have won only four of their last 15 games in Townsville in the past two seasons with Dairy Farmers Stadium losing its reputation as one of the NRL's most intimidating venues.

The Cowboys have already lost two of this year's three games in the tropics and management has stressed to players the importance of making Dairy Farmers a fortress and rewarding their loyal fans.

"Our home record here isn't good enough," coach Neil Henry said on Friday. "We're one from three this year and three from 12 last year.

"Our local fans and our fans who travel haven't had a lot of joy for a while.

"We've spoken about that as a team and as a club and what our expectations are playing here and hopefully we can turn that home record around and we need to do that."

Steamy Townsville had been among the toughest road trips in the competition until the end of 2007 when the Cowboys finished among the top four in three of four seasons.

The club's desperation to reverse their Townsville fortunes hasn't been helped by a tough early home draw in 2009.

NQ have fallen to Melbourne and the pace-setting Gold Coast in front of their local fans and now face the defending premiers in a pivotal match for both clubs.

They sit among a bunch of six teams from 10th to 15th on the ladder on four points but come off vital last-start wins.

The Sea Eagles, who last won in Townsville in 2004, have swept aside Souths and Wests Tigers with Stewart crossing five times in his two weeks back.

But they are still yet to triumph without their Test star and his serious knee injury has seen critics write off Manly's title defence.

Henry attributed Manly's winless opening month as much due to their world club challenge campaign and a premiership hangover but warned they were now on a roll and otherwise at full strength.

Cowboys hooker Aaron Payne has put his hand up to play a full 80 minutes with back-up Clint Amos sidelined, while NQ are set to drop John Williams, brother of Manly flyer David, off their interchange bench with Ash Graham (knee) fit to go.

"It's an important game for us to gain some momentum," Payne said.

"But most importantly we're playing at home and we haven't given our fans too much to cheer about at home recently, and they're loyal fans and they deserve a good game."

Cowboys five-eighth Travis Burns is raring to go against his old club after missing last year's meeting, won by Manly 38-6, through suspension.

"I think everyone who leaves a club looks forward to playing their old club again and the boys have been ripping into me with a few texts," Burns said.

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