North Queensland break their five-game losing streak by beating the Panthers 24-10 at 1300 SMILES Stadium.
The Cowboys earned a much-needed win against the Panthers to put the men from the foot of the mountains’ finals hopes in disarray.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary would be shaking his head, as they looked nothing like a team fighting to stay in touch with the top eight. Their finals hopes now rely on other results with two rounds to go.
The Cowboys made the ideal start when centre Tom Opacic set up winger Kyle Feldt with a flick pass in the eighth minute.
It was a back-and-forth contest before winger Brian To’o got Penrith on the board just before half time to give the Panthers life.
North Queensland responded soon after when young winger Murray Taulagi scored his first NRL try thanks to some great work from Jordan Kahu, who was immense all game.
Feldt scored his second try of the night as he ran 80 metres untouched, after a 20 metre restart, to make the score 18-4 early in the second half.
Penrith were way off their usual pace for most of the game, as their fourth and fifth tackle options and handling errors really hurt them.
This gave the Cowboys a number of opportunities to march up the field, which they took with both hands to put the game away.
As for next week, North Queensland welcome the in-form Bulldogs on Thursday in the last match to be played at 1300 Smiles Stadium, while Penrith face an ominous task against the reigning premiers the Sydney Roosters next Saturday.
JT Beast Mode Again
Taumalolo showed no signs of the foot complaint which kept him sidelined last week, as he chalked up 152 metres from 17 runs. He was brilliant all game long, which ended with a try in the 71st minute. Worth every penny.
Penrith’s Finals Hopes Gone?
After dropping their last two games, Ivan Cleary’s men have to win their last two games to give themselves a chance to play finals, though it doesn’t get much easier as they face the Roosters at the SCG next week, followed by the Knights at home.
Penrith Controversially Denied a Try by the Bunker
In the 51st minute, with the Panthers trailing 12-4, Mitch Kenny looked to have scored a try under the posts that would have narrowed the gap to two points. However the Bunker ruled that Reagan Campbell-Gillard made contact in the defensive line, which affected Francis Molo’s ability to defend the play. This will be a talking point over the weekend and next week.
That One was for Scotty
North Queensland’s finals hopes are done and dusted, but the win provides some consolation after a horrible week highlighted by retirement-bound prop Matt Scott hospitalised for a mild stroke. It was more than the two competition points for the Cowboys as they were playing for their spiritual leader.
North Queensland Cowboys 24
Tries: Kyle Feldt (2), Murray Taulagi, Jason Taumalolo
Goals: Jordan Kahu 4/4
Penrith Panthers 10
Tries: Brian To’o, Isaah Yeo
Goals: Nathan Cleary 1/2
North Queensland Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Jordan Kahu 4. Tom Opacic 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Michael Morgan 13. John Asiata 8. Scott Bolton 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Shane Wright 18. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14. Reuben Cotter 15. Coen Hess 16. Peter Hola 17. Francis Molo
Penrith Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Stephen Crichton 3. Dean Whare 4. Brent Naden 5. Brian To’o 6. James Maloney 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo. Interchange: 15. Spencer Leniu 16. Moses Leota 17. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 18. Wayde Egan