NRL 2024: North Queensland Cowboys press conference, Todd Payten, Cowboys loss to the Broncos, Tom Dearden tackle, news, videos, highlights

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Cowboys coach Todd Payten has put the boot into his side, labelling his team’s performance “disappointing” in a 38-12 loss in the Queensland derby.

North Queensland trailed 20-12 at halftime as the game hung in the balance, but an Adam Reynolds kicking masterclass saw the Cowboys’ back three make a staggering 10 errors.

The Cowboys also completed at only 56 per cent and made 17 total errors, 11 more than their opponents who capitalised after being handed strong field position on multiple occasions.

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Speaking in the post-match press conference, Payten was clearly upset and immediately said he was “so disappointed” by his team.

“Come down to Brisbane, it’s our biggest club game of the year and we just gave our opposition too many shots inside our own half,” Payten said.

“You can’t, we wouldn’t beat the Temora Dragons by doing that, giving a good attacking team too many shots and you’re no chance to win.

“I thought we should have been down by more at halftime to be honest. The most disappointing part of the game, Tommy Dearden makes this awesome defensive play.

“One of the better ones I’ve seen in a long time, and we just had no spark or reaction off the back of that. So yeah, we are sitting here, a real reality check about some of our football.

“It was awesome, it was a match-turner… pulled him down in the corner and there was a chance for us to get back in the game, we just couldn’t find it.”

Reynolds’ kicking game was a highlight for the Broncos, and Payten was asked if his team could have done a better job shutting down the superstar halfback.

His towering bombs, knuckling in the air, consistently saw fullback Scott Drinkwater let the bounce or forced an error from the gun No.1.

But for Payten, he believes the game has taken duty of care for kickers too far, to the point defenders can’t apply pressure.

“Kick pressure is irrelevant now, they know they can’t get hit so they don’t baulk on any kicks, I think the front on pressure is the way to go,” Payten said.

“That’s the only way you can put him off because if you’re coming from marker they know as soon as the ball’s on the foot they’re protected.

“I’m not saying catching balls at the back is easy but that’s their job and they’ve got to get it done.

Asked if the duty of care for kickers has gone too far, Payten replied: “We have a little bit yeah, there’s a fine line, I think we should protect our players, but you’re not allowed to touch them.”

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The Cowboys also missed 34 tackles against the Broncos, 11 more than their opponents who had only four more runs.

“Our defence needs to improve, I wasn’t completely happy with it over the first three rounds anyway, when you’re forcing yourself to do too much of it, you’re going to miss tackles,” Payten said.

“We’re asking our boys to do too much in the middle, but there’s teams that make errors and are able to defend it too.”

“I thought we had a really good week… but conceding the try we did first through the ruck, it just deflates our energy.

“From there our back five made what, 14 errors throughout the game, they’ve been a real strength for us for the first three games.

“Two full days of training this week, plus a captain’s run, and we’ve got some real work to do.”

Originally published as ’So disappointed’: Todd Payten savages own team with fierce sledge

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