Matt Attard reviews the final game of round one: North Queensland vs Canterbury-Bankstown …
North Queensland Cowboys 4
Tries: Tom Gilbert (15)
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 6
Tries: Jayden Okunbor (51)
Goals: Matt Burton (52)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
The Bulldogs have won their opening clash in a wet, wild, and HIA-riddled game with plenty of late drama.
It was a rain-filled day in North Queensland but by the time kick off came around it was steamy and humid meaning both teams traded errors early on.
With a host of new stars the Bulldogs looked to build combinations, however the Cowboys threatened the most with worrying defence on display from Canterbury as well as poor discipline – just as they displayed in their trial matches.
That flakey defence proved costly in the 16th minute when Tom Dearden split the left edge, leading to a Tom Gilbert try. Valentine Holmes missed the wide conversion.
Several errors later and Jack Hetherington was in the sin bin, not for foul play but for repeated team infringements.
As the half drew to an end it was a monster Matt Burton kick that led to a forced error, giving the Bulldogs a shot inside the attacking 20. But their seventh error of the half ensured no points were scored.
Matt Dufty pounced on an error and took off down field, leading to a claim for a Jake Averillo try. The video ref inspected and said there was no grounding.
Despite several more sets on the Cowboys line, their attack couldn’t click and the home side took a slender 4-0 lead to the break.
HALF-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 4 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 0Embed from Getty Images
A towering Burton kick forced another error but unfortunately for the blue and white faithful it looks like the team’s attack has gone backwards from their wooden spoon season. The lack of commitment and tenacity with and without the ball would be extremely worrying for Trent Barrett.
The Cowboys continued to grind away as they made big metres down field on the back of their quick play the balls and nifty halfback.
After many chances it was a brilliant tap on to winger Jayden Okunbor from new signing Braidon Burns that saw the Bulldogs open their account out wide in spectacular fashion.
Burton nailed the sideline conversion for a 6-4 lead. Burns was taken from the field several sets later for a HIA.
Both sides began to tire and cramp but it was the Bulldogs with more of the possession. They looked likely but the Cowboys weren’t going down without a fight as they continued to make big metres.
Dufty crossed for what seemed to be a crafty try from a Burton inside ball, but referee Ben Cummins called it forward.
Minutes later Brent Naden’s night ended when he went too low in a tackle and was ruled out via HIA, joining Burns and Chris Patolo. This meant 18th man Aaron Schoupp entered the game as the rain began to pelt down.
Jeremy Marshall-King set up a Josh Addo-Carr line break but he spilt the ball as he was tackled in torrential rain, with the Bulldogs clinging to a two-point lead with 12 to go.
The home side were able to settle things and force two goal line drop outs as Marshall-King succumbed to a HIA, leaving no players on the Bulldogs bench.
This time it was the Cowboys’ turn for an attacking bomb and it came up trumps, a tap back landing in Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow’s hands to score under the posts. However the video ref found an offside in the lead up and overturned the try.
Try as they may in the final two minutes the Cowboys weren’t able to crack the defence and the Bulldogs hung on for a gritty win.
FULL-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 4 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 6
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Luke Thompson (Bulldogs), 2 pts – Tom Gilbert (Cowboys), 1 pt – Max King (Bulldogs)
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