Raiders coach Ricky Stuart offered a ray of hope for the North Queensland Cowboys after his side produced a workmanlike 30-12 win in Townsville on Saturday night.
As well as praising the way Englishman Ryan Sutton and the rest of his players went about securing the two points, Stuart said the Cowboys should be afforded some time to get over the departure of their favourite son.
“You’ve got to give the Cowboys a little bit of time because any football team that loses JT is going to have a massive hole that they cannot fill,” Stuart said.
“They've got to change their structure and style in regards to how they play.
“They've got enough experience there and those two halves [Michael Morgan and Jake Clifford] will improve once they get a bit of time together. Exactly like my halves.”
Stuart said the criticism the Cowboys received in the lead-up to the match ensured his side prepared well for the match.
“They [Cowboys] probably had a little bit of criticism this week that would have motivated them. If we didn't prepare the way we did this week, we get beaten. I thought they’d be up so we had to be,” he said.
“It was a pretty messy game. We gave them a lot of opportunity to win in the second half but they were probably just a little bit worse than us.”
Stuart said being able to lean on the experience of the likes of Josh Hodgson, Jarrod Croker, Sia Soliola and Elliott Whitehead was a huge help when going on the road.
“Some experience representative players in your squad is really beneficial because they’ve played big games and they're good players," he said.
"You get into scenarios where you need their experience and ability, and they get you over the line.
“I thought Ryan Sutton was probably one of our best. I was really impressed with Ryan’s game, he carried tough and made some really big efforts in defence when he had to.”