The North Queensland Cowboys have piled more misery on the Canberra Raiders with a comprehensive 31-18 victory lead by Michael Morgan.

Jonathon who?
Jonathon Thurston’s presence was barely missed with the new halves duo starring in the 13 point drubbing of the depleted Raiders. Michael Morgan did not put a foot wrong in a performance that has Queensland coach Kevin Walters on notice. Morgan ran for 102 metres, scoring two tries and assisting another two and his halves partner Te Marie Martin was just as damaging also crossing for two tries. On the flip side, Canberra’s halves to be brutally honest were woeful. A night to remember for Morgan and Martin and a night forget for Austin and Sezer.

All over before a ball was kicked
Josh Hodgson was ruled out prior to the game with a calf strain, this was a massive blow as he is the Raiders chief playmaker. Without Hodgson they lack direction, this was evident last night as it was in the Qualifying Final last year, it was always going to be an uphill battle. Kurt Baptiste is a solid player but he perhaps lacked a bit of match fitness after only recently returning from an Achilles injury. The Raiders spine was awful and the loss of Hodgson was too big of a loss to comprehend.

Cowboys on the rise
The Cowboys just quietly, are building quite nicely towards September. They sit in sixth position but only two points outside the top four. Without Matt Scott and Jonathon Thurston, everyone wrote North Queensland off, however they just keep proving the doubters wrong. They have one of the best rosters in the competition and there is no reason why they can’t go on a run and be there or thereabouts come September. Taumalolo is matching his form from last season, Coen Hess is playing like a man possessed, Michael Morgan is stepping up and Kyle Feldt is finishing tries like there’s no tomorrow. Watch out NRL the Cowboys are on the rise.

Raiders season on life support
Canberra are now on a four game losing streak. Their season looks to be all but over, they look a shadow of what they did last year. What they did so well last year just isn’t clicking right now. History suggests they can only afford to lose another two games and they must win six from their last eight to make the eight but that might not even be enough. The green machine was predicted to be a premiership threat, sadly they look far from it. Ricky Stuart may have a selection headache when they return from the bye with Joey Leilua facing suspension for a foolish elbow, Jarrod Croker went off injured and there is no set return date for Josh Hodgson. Canberra can’t be counted out just yet, but they are at long odds to be in the reckoning come September.

SCOREBOARD
North Queensland Cowboys – 31
Tries: Te Marie Martin (2), Michael Morgan (2), Antonio Winterstein
Goals: Ethan Lowe 5/6
Canberra Raiders – 18
Tries: Elliot Whitehead, Nick Cotric, Joseph Tapine
Goals: Jarrod Croker 1/1, Aidan Sezer 2/2