Julian Vella reviews this Thursday night clash between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Sydney Roosters. Here’s how the game went.
|22nd||Try Reece Robson (Cowboys)||Cowboys 4-0|
|23rd||Goal Kyle Feldt (Cowboys)||Cowboys 6-0|
|31st||Try Matt Ikuvalu (Roosters)||Cowboys 6-4|
|32nd||Goal Kyle Flanagan (Roosters)||Scores tied 6-6|
|36th||Try Sitili Tupouniua (Roosters)||Roosters 10-6|
|37th||Goal Kyle Flanagan (Roosters)||Roosters 12-6|
|41st||Try Matt Ikuvalu (Roosters)||Roosters 16-6|
|44th||Try Matt Ikuvalu (Roosters)||Roosters 20-6|
|49th||Try Luke Keary (Roosters)||Roosters 24-6|
|51st||Goal Kyle Flanagan (Roosters)||Roosters 26-6|
|52nd||Try Luke Keary (Roosters)||Roosters 30-6|
|53rd||Goal Kyle Flanagan (Roosters)||Roosters 32-6|
|60th||Try Matt Ikuvalu (Roosters)||Roosters 36-6|
|61st||Goal Kyle Flanagan (Roosters)||Roosters 38-6|
|64th||Try Matt Ikuvalu (Roosters)||Roosters 42-6|
|72nd||Try Coen Hess (Cowboys)||Roosters 42-10|
|76th||Try Reece Robson (Cowboys)||Roosters 42-14|
|77th||Goal Kyle Feldt (Cowboys)||Roosters 42-16|
After losing in-form winger Brett Morris in the warm up, the Roosters were slow out of the blocks as they struggled with their ball control. But the Cowboys were also struggling to put the polish on the end of their sets, as their poor kicking game in the early exchanges curtailed any promising passages of play they created.
It took a great individual run by Cowboys hooker Reece Robson to break the deadlock as he beat a few defenders on his way to the try line. The Cowboys looked dangerous after putting on first points and were awarded a penalty close to the posts. What looked like an easy kick for penalty goal for Kyle Feldt turned out to be more difficult than expected as he hit the posts.
That turned out to be the turning point of the first half, as the Roosters took control from that point on: running in two tries in the last 10 minutes of the first half. First it was winger Matt Ikuvalu – a late inclusion for Morris – who crossed for the Roosters’ first try after a sumptuous pass from James Tedesco.
Front row forward Siosiua Taukeiaho then broke the line before offloading to his fellow forward Sitili Tupouniua, who ran away to score under the posts; this seemed to be a killer blow for the Cowboys, who probably felt like they deserved to at least go into the sheds even on the scoreboard.
The Roosters took up where they left off in the first half as they ran in two quick tries in the early exchanges of the second half, and on both occasions it was winger Ikuvalu finishing off some nice passing from the Roosters to cross in the corner. Both tries were laid on again by the silky smooth skills of Tedesco, who was starting to look untouchable.
The Cowboys’ heads were down and the Roosters could smell blood as they ran in tries in consecutive sets, both from Luke Keary and once again both laid on by Tedesco. At this stage the Cowboys had conceded 32 points in just 21 minutes and the nightmare of last week’s flogging at the hands of the Eels were starting to flood back.
If the Cowboys were having a nightmare then Ikuvalu was in dream time as he crossed again for his fourth try of the night, not bad for a man who wasn’t even supposed to be playing just before kick off. But he wasn’t finished there as he crossed yet again for his fifth try after outleaping Ben Hampton to score off a Keary cross-field kick.
The Cowboys finally steadied the bleeding as they held out further raids by the Roosters, before they crossed for a try of their own as Coen Hess steamrolled his way over after a nice ball from Scott Drinkwater. Drinkwater had endured a very unhappy night until that point, struggling with both his handling and defence, so it was good to see him finish on a positive note.
With the heat well and truly gone out of the game the Cowboys scored another consolation try as their hooker Robson scored his second try of the night, again from a scoot from dummy half. Finally the pain and suffering was over for the Cowboys as the full time siren sounded, leaving the Roosters with a resounding victory.
Undoubtedly the highlight coming out of this game was the five-try effort from winger Matt Ikuvalu, considering he wasn’t supposed to play even minutes until kick off when Brett Morris pulled out.
Ikuvalu has been a squad player for a few years now for the Roosters and has found himself in and out of the side, but this will certainly be a night he will remember for the rest of his life. Ikuvalu became the first player since Alex Johnston in 2017 to score five tries in a game.
North Queensland Cowboys
1. Hamiso Tabaui-Fidow 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Connelly Lemuelu 4. Esan Masters 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh McGuire 9. Reece Robson 10. Francis Molo 11. Shane Wright 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14. Ben Hampton 15. Tom Gilbert 16. Peter Hola 17. Gavin Cooper.
1. James Tedesco 2. Ryan Hall 3. Josh Morris 4. Joey Manu 21. Matt Ikuvalu 6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Angus Crichton 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Nat Butcher. Interchange: 14. Lachlan Lam 15 Sitili Tupouniua 16 Poasa Faamausili 17. Lindsey Collins.