North Queensland Cowboys 18
Tries: Antonio Winterstein 2, Matthew Wright
Goals: Johnathan Thurston 2
Field Goals: Johnathan Thurston 2
Melbourne Storm 17
Tries: Kurt Mann, Marika Koroibete, Felise Kaufusi
Goals: Cameron Smith 2
Field Goals: Cooper Cronk
The Cowboys miserable start to the year took a turn in the right direction with a turbulent one point victory at 1300SMILES Stadium in Monday Night Football.
It was troubling beginnings for the Cowboys once more, Kurt Mann striking in the seventh minute for Melbourne, and while they struck back through Antonio Winterstein in the 13th minute, the Storm would run in two more tries before the break to lead 16-4. One of those tries, a super solo effort from Marika Koroibete that will dominate highlight reels, diffusing a huge bomb from Johnathan Thurston, Koroibete blitzed the length of the field for a phenomenal individual try. The Cowboys weren’t without opportunities in the half, but failed to capitalise on the time they spent in Melbourne’s half.
The second half began in ho-hum fashion, failing to trouble the scorers until the 62nd minute when Winterstein would go in for his second of the night to start to give the Cowboys a sniff. With a six point lead, the Storm were quick to pad that with a field-goal as soon as the opportunity presented itself with Cooper Cronk doing the honours. With two scores required, the Cowboys looked destined for a fourth consecutive defeat, but when Matthew Wright struck in the 78th minute, followed by a vintage clutch Thurston sideline conversion, a glimmer of hope remained with the Cowboys down by just one. Boosted out of their own end by a penalty in the ensuing set, the Cowboys quickly found themselves in field-goal territory, and Thurston obliged calmly taking the one-pointer with around 30 seconds left on the clock to send us into golden point.
The Cowboys would receive the ball first in golden point, and it didn’t take long to create themselves an opportunity, but as Thurston looked to tee up the match winner, brilliant defence from Billy Slater forced Thurston to his left boot and the kick was well wide. Melbourne were quick to go on the offensive, swiftly manoeuvring down the pitch, they wasted little time getting the ball to Cronk in prime position, but he too put it wide. With each team exchanging failed attempts at ending the contest, it was again the Cowboys turn, and it was the sublime Thurston who would step up again, knocking over his second field-goal of the night to bring elation to the Townsville crowd.
The Cowboys were carried up front all night by the tank like Jason Taumalolo who rampaged his way to over 200 metres, well supported by the ever reliable Matt Scott who eclipsed the 150 metre mark along with 38 tackles. Scott’s counterpart Jesse Bromwich had a huge performance of his own, passing 130 metres while making 43 tackles, supported admirably by Tohu Harris with 115 metres and 41 tackles.
NothingButLeague Man of the Match: Johnathan Thurston