Vintage Farah has Cowboys clinging to life
THE return of North Queensland's million dollar man Michael Morgan was not enough to revive their hopes of a finals berth on Thursday night as they slumped to a 28-4 loss at Leichhardt Oval.
It was a stark contrast between the two sides as a vintage Robbie Farah performance outclassed an error-riddled Cowboys side which did little to threaten the home side.
It has been a dizzyingly fall from grace for the Cowboys this season after they started the year as serious finals contenders.
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However, Thursday night's loss in front of 10,016 fans was their 12th of the season, cementing them to 13th on the ladder, and has now put their season on life support.
Coach Paul Green said "questionable" refereeing decisions sapped the confidence out of his side.
"Early there was a couple of decisions that went against us that I don't necessarily agree with," Green said.
"We've got to move on with those but you can't discount it either.
"It makes a huge difference in the context of the game.
"We had two tries taken off us in that first half which were questionable in my opinion.
"That does eat away at your confidence a bit.
"We need to be a lot more mentally tougher.
"There's a few young guys learning some tough lessons at the moment."
Their finals' aspirations are now seemingly out of reach if they continue Thursday night's abysmal performance and it will require a miracle run for them to have any hope of a top eight finish next month.
Leading into the match, the players still held onto the hope of making it through to the top eight, and their confidence was buoyed by Morgan's return from a concussion injury.
But instead they were taught a serious lesson in all aspects of the game by one of the best in the business when Tigers veteran Robbie Farah ran riot at his spiritual home.
In 301 NRL games, Farah knows a thing or two about controlling a match and he finished the match with a try, a linebreak and pinpoint accurate kicking.
The Leichhardt hoodoo continues to plague the Cowboys who have now gone 19 years since last winning a game there.
They did themselves no favours however, finishing the game with 26 missed tackles, 13 errors and giving away six penalties.
They also buckled under the defensive pressure of the home side which resulted in a kick out on the full and a deliberate forward pass, among other costly errors.
North Queensland will be hoping to change things around next week when they host the Brisbane Broncos at home for the biannual Queensland derby.
Tigers centre Esan Marsters opened the scoring before Farah crossed for his 70th NRL try when he scored in the 18th minute.
Winger Paul Momirovski then extended the lead out to 16-nil within 22 minutes and remained that way until halftime.
The Cowboys appeared to have held the Tigers at bay in the second stanza and were able to cross in the 65th minute through winger Kyle Feldt.
But the glimpse of a comeback was short-lived when Marsters and bench forward Chris Lawrence barged over in the space of two minutes to take their lead out to 28-4.
WESTS TIGERS 28 (E Marsters 2 R Farah C Lawrence P Momirovski tries M Mbye 3 P Momirovski goals) bt NORTH QUEENSLAND 4 (K Feldt try) at Leichhardt Oval. Referee: Jon Stone, Grant Atkins. Crowd: 10,016