The North Queensland Cowboys have defied critics and have manoeuvred an unexpected run into the Grand Final to be played against the Melbourne Storm.
Languishing in the eighth spot in the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder, Cowboys supposedly had no hope of succeeding, without the immortal Jonathan Thurston and vice-captain Matt Scott, not to mention the key players they had absent throughout the season.
When the Dragons took on the Bulldogs as the season's curtains were closing, Cowboys players watched on with fear of not making the playoffs. In the final twenty minutes, we can all agree that no one saw Bulldogs making a comeback with their season done and dusted. However, they did, and Cowboys players agreed to not let the opportunity of getting deep into the finals slip.
Shocked and surprised, the Cowboys club were ecstatic. Only the blind-faithful gave them any chance of making the Grand Final. Interviewed in the NRL Finals Launch, was Cowboys captain Gavin Cooper. When questioned about their chances in the Finals, Cooper replied "why not us", with a broad smile. When published, we all had a laugh at the Cowboys thinking that they're any chance of making it past week one.
Come Sunday, the Cowboys faithful made the trip down to Allianz Stadium to watch them play their first elimination final. Little did they know, it was the start of an inspiring run to the Grand Final. A field goal by Michael Morgan in extra-time meant Cowboys were bound to play Eels the week after. Another unexpected upset, and another world-class performance by Michael Morgan. Since the premature exit of Johnathan Thurston, Morgan has established himself as a world-class halfback. The Cowboys entered the third week of the finals, I myself thought that the fairy-tale run would end there, but again they proved me wrong, and pulled off the unthinkable, booking a spot with Melbourne in the Grand Final. After attending the game, I thought to myself the multiple times I had written them off, I couldn't see a reason why they couldn't do it again come Sunday.
Given that the Cowboys weren't backed coming into the finals, they have no expectations on their shoulders. Meanwhile, Melbourne Storm only losing four games this season will feel the pressure of failing to deliver a final premiership ring to Cooper Cronk and possibly Billy Slater. The Cowboys will be premiership heavyweights in the years to come, without a doubt, in this year's Grand Final, who knows what this persistent Cowboys side could conjure up.
In saying that, it shows that if any team in Rugby League, believe they can succeed, and put in the hours in the training room, working towards a dream that seems unrealistic to the people, a crack at premiership glory will come their way.