Spine tingling combinations show promise of season ahead
IN THEIR first game together this season Scott Drinkwater and Jake Clifford clicked.
Resigned to being without skipper Michael Morgan for the foreseeable future, the new look halves pairing piloted the side in his absence to decimate the Gold Coast Titans.
They were balanced as they plotted the downfall of their rivals, with coach Paul Green satisfied when the opportunities were there the ball fell in the right hands.
Game by game Drinkwater has grown into the No. 6 jumper. There were moments he would have liked over, including having thrown an intercept pass, but the signs were there that his tool set was developing into a formidable arsenal.
"It looked like I wanted to give Jonus Pearson a try at one stage there," Drinkwater said.
"He (Clifford) is a good organising half and he kicks really well - that's what I like in a partner … and let me just play that second phase footy with Val (Holmes).
"I always feel pretty comfortable playing (five-eighth), I still have a little bit to work on defensively and combinations but I felt pretty good.
"Without Morgan I felt like I had a bit more authority with the ball and enjoyed it."
It was not just the halves who clicked into gear in the 36-6 thumping.
Valentine Holmes had his best game as a Cowboy, as too did Reece Robson at dummy-half.
All six North Queensland tries involved the spine in some way, and Drinkwater said it was a promising light for the season ahead.
The more they play together the better they will get.
And with Jason Taumalolo continuing his unstoppable form, racking up 273 running metres, the 23-year-old has seen the makings of a title threat.
"I think he (Taumalolo) is a machine, he's well oiled every night. He's unreal to have out there and when the going gets tough he gets going," Drinkwater said.
"They kind of called him out during the week and he showed up so don't poke the bear.
"That's what you want in your footy team, the spine combining really well. We're the playmakers of the team and we get them around the park.
"If we're playing good and doing our job it makes the big boys in the middle's jobs a whole lot easier."
Originally published as Spine tingling combinations show promise of season ahead