Brendan Wood reviews the North Queensland Cowboys first win of the season, 26-6 over the Canberra Raiders in Townsville.
North Queensland Cowboys 26
Tries: Murray Tuilagi 6, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 56, Kyle Feldt 69, Jeremiah Nanai 72
Goals: Valentine Holmes 16, 26, 57, 71, 73
Canberra Raiders 6
Tries: Corey Harawira-Naera 30
Goals: Corey Harawira-Naera 31
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
An early error from Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad gifted the home side a full set inside the Raiders 20. Off the ensuing set, the Cowboys returned the favour by spilling the ball early in the tackle count.
Just moments later, the Cowboys got another opportunity. The Raiders coughed the ball up coming out of their own end, and gifted a second chance, the home side cashed in. They spread the ball to the left edge and Murray Tuilagi tip-toed down the sideline to score in the corner.
After trading seven-tackle sets, the Raiders got back into the game when Jack Wighton kicked a 40/20. However, the visitors failed to execute their attacking opportunity as Peta Hiku intercepted a pass to turn defence into attack. The Raiders scrambling cover defence was caught offside on the next play, and the Cowboys opted to take the two points.
The ill-discipline of the Raiders continued to be a feature of the first half, as they gave away another penalty. This time for an obstruction while they were in possession of the ball. Within range of the posts, the Cowboys chose to extend their lead to eight by taking the penalty goal.
Despite trailing by more than a converted try, the Raiders kept coming. The got a penalty to piggyback them into Cowboys territory and were finally able to get on the scoreboard. Corey Harawira-Naera took on four defenders close to the line and won when he grounded the ball just as he looked to be held.
With time winding down in the half, the Cowboys had a few more cracks at the Raiders when they forced a line drop out. Murray Tuilagi looked to have scored his second try in similar fashion to his first. However, on review the bunker found he had stepped on the sideline before grounding the ball.
HALF-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 14 Canberra Raiders 6Embed from Getty Images
An early penalty went against the Cowboys when Jason Taumalolo interfered with the chasers trying to apply kick pressure. Luckily for the home side it didn’t result in any points, as the Raiders kicked the ball dead at the end of the following set.
After several back-and-forth sets, the Cowboys finally swung the momentum in their favour. Chad Townsend put up an attacking bomb and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow jumped above the pack to grab the ball and beat the cover defence to score.
Not long after the first try of the second half, the Cowboys were looking dangerous again. Chad Townsend grubbered a kick into the in-goal and Hudson Young held back Jeremiah Nanai as he tried to get to the bouncing ball. Young was sent straight to the sin-bin to leave the Raiders short for the next 10 minutes.
With Young off the field, the Cowboys went close to scoring several times, but the Raiders desperation defence kept them out. Just as it looked like they had survived, Peta Hiku produced a try when he kicked a loose pass forward for Kyle Feldt to clean up and score.
The Feldt try appeared to open the floodgates, as the Cowboys rolled through some tired Raiders forwards and scored another try. Jeremiah Nanai caught a bomb on the Raiders line and got the ball down to extend the lead to 20 points.
Inside the final 10 minutes, the Cowboys kept turning the screws. They applied pressure to the Raiders all the way to the final siren and ran away with a comfortable first win of the year
FULL-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 26 Canberra Raiders 6
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys), 2 pts – Tom Dearden (North Queensland Cowboys), 1 pt – Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (North Queensland Cowboys)
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