In an ugly encounter, the North Queensland Cowboys broke their four-match losing streak to defeat the New Zealand Warriors 17-10.
After a spirited showing against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the New Zealand Warriors returned to Mount Smart as favourites to defeat the struggling North Queensland Cowboys, but an error-riddled performance saw them slump to their first defeat at their home ground in 2019.
Blake Green was ruled out of the match with the injury he obtained last week still troubling him; this saw Peta Hiku return to the halves once again with Gerard Beale also returning to the centres.
The home side started the match well and on the back of three penalties had the lions share of possession in the early stages but could not convert it into points until the 20th minute when Ken Maumalo scored in the corner with Chanel Harris-Tavita failing to convert.
Moments later Justin O’Neill prevented a certain try when he intercepted the ball after Roger Tuivasa-Sheck broke the Cowboys defence apart and looked to put Gerard Beale away.
The Cowboys took advantage of this reprieve and scored moments later when Jake Clifford took advantage of some lazy Warriors defence and sent Coen Hess over for their first try of the night and the lead after Jordan Kahu’s conversion.
A Kahu penalty increased the lead to 8-4 as the sides went into the half time break.
The Warriors started the second half strong once again as Tuivasa-Sheck scored after an excellent solo effort which saw him run 30metres untouched, Harris-Tavita’s conversion gave the Warriors the lead once again 10-8.
Tuivasa-Sheck, usually safe under the high ball, failed to defuse a punt in front of his goal line which allowed the Cowboys to take full advantage with Justin O’Neill scoring moments later, Kahu’s conversion put them back in front once again.
The last 20 minutes of the match was like a boxing match with both sides trading shots with neither gaining the upper hand, unforced errors and penalties continued to plague the Warriors with Kahu and Micheal Morgan kicking a penalty goal and field goal each to increase their lead by 7.
With only 7 minutes remaining the Warriors failed to land the counterpunch required and the Cowboys recorded only their second win and earned some much-needed confidence as they look at getting their season back on track.
Monkey off their Back
It wasn’t pretty, but the Cowboys finally broke their losing streak, after a close defeat against table-topping Melbourne Storm, you could see that it was a matter of it not when that the Cowboys would get another win and they showed character in their performance tonight.
There is still a lot of work to be done if they are to get themselves into the top eight, but if the team can emulate the efforts displayed by Josh McGuire and Michael Morgan, then they have a legitimate shot.
Still a Long Road Ahead
Both sides still have a long road ahead if top eight aspirations are to be met, Round 7 sees the Cowboys face a Bulldogs side which is also struggling to find form and could either be a stepping stone or a banana peel.
The Warriors have a short turnaround and have the daunting task of facing the Storm in Melbourne on Anzac day, history does not shine fondly on the Warriors in these Anzac day clashes with heavy defeats the past two years, after tonights loss there will be plenty of food for thought for the Warriors as they prepare for this clash.
Errors Haunt Warriors
The Warriors missed fewer tackles, made more line breaks and threw more offloads but were let down by their handling.
In a competition as tight as the NRL you need to show the ball more respect if you are to have any chance of walking away with a victory and tonight the Warriors didn’t do that until the Warriors improve the fundamentals their fans can expect more disappointment in their future.
A Blake Sized Hole
The absence of the Warriors veteran half was apparent tonight as they appeared lost when attacking the Cowboys line, Tuivasa-Sheck has asserted himself into a playmaking role, but he cannot do it alone.
Harris-Tavita is a talented young player, but his inexperience was highlighted tonight as the Warriors were reduced to playing one out football that was easily defused by the Cowboys.
After two weeks away Warriors fans will have their fingers crossed that Blake makes his return next week.
North Queensland Cowboys 17
Tries: Coen Hess, Justin O’Neill
Goals: Jordan Kahu 4/4
Field Goals: Michael Morgan 1/1
New Zealand Warriors 10
Tries: Ken Maumalo, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Goals: Chanel Harris-Tavita 1/2
New Zealand Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2. David Fusitu’a, 21. Gerard Beale, 4. Solomone Kata, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 3. Peta Hiku, 8. Agnatius Paasi, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Leeson Ah Mau, 11. Adam Blair, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Lachlan Burr, 14. Jazz Tevaga, 16. Bunty Afoa, 17. Isaiah Papali’i, 18. Nathaniel Roache
North Queensland Cowboys: 1. Te Maire Martin, 2. Justin O’Neill, 3. Jordan Kahu, 4. Enari Tuala, 5. Ben Hampton, 6. Jake Clifford, 7. Michael Morgan, 8. Matthew Scott, 9. Jake Granville, 10. Jordan McLean, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Josh McGuire, 13. John Asiata, 14. Kurt Baptiste, 15. Coen Hess, 16. Scott Bolton, 17. Francis Molo