George George, the former Cook Islands rugby captain and coach, believes the fourth-seeded Cowboys have come into form at just the right time of the year.
“The Cowboys had a slow start coming into the year, but the more that they’ve played, the more that they’ve gelled as a team,” George said.
“One thing that has really stood out to me is that they have a great mix of players. They have some strong experienced players, like Francis Smith and Andre Iro, as well as some fantastic youngsters like Noah and Miles Taio.”
On paper, it might seem that the Cowboys have been in reverse, considering they have lost three of their past four matches, and lost two weeks ago to the Reds 16-13.
But all three teams they have played have been ahead of them on the table, and each game was a tightly-contested affair that the Cowboys have only lost on the scoreboard.
They have a ferocious forward pack marshalled by experienced halfback Spoon Marsters, and they have handled their Eels and Panthers opponents.
The only area in which the Cowboys have been lacking is their attack. They have only crossed the 20-point threshold once in the past five weeks, and that was in their most recent match when they scored 39 points against the Ngatangiia Dragons.
Look for the Cowboys to go all out this weekend in their match against the Reds, who have game-breakers that can score points in a hurry.
Although they also suffered defeats to the top two sides, they scored nearly 50 points combined in both those games, and also broke the half-century against the Dragons.
“I imagine that the Reds will come out firing, because they can really score some tries. But they need a whole team effort, they can’t rely on one player to provide all the game-breaking moments,” George said.
“The one that walks away with the victory will be the one that held together as a team, that recognises the only way to win is to trust and believe in each other.”
The winner of the Reds-Cowboys game will face off against the loser of the Tupapa Panthers Avatiu/Nikao Eels match, the top two seeded teams, next week.