It was a tale of two halves which was ultimately won by the North Queensland Cowboys at GIO Stadium.
Canberra Raiders 12
Tries: Tom Starling (2), Jordan Rapana (13)
Goals: Brad Schneider 2 (4, 15)
North Queensland Cowboys 18
Tries: Heilum Luki (46), Valentine Holmes (62), Jeremiah Nanai (70)
Goals: Valentine Holmes 3 (47, 64, 71)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
The Canberra Raiders were looking to maintain their perfect home record in 2022 and got off to the perfect start when Josh Starling went over untouched from dummy half through the middle of the Cowboys defence.
Their lead was extended further when Corey Harawira-Naera tapped on to Jordan Rapana who scored out wide after the Cowboys conceded back-to-back penalties.
Midway through the half the Cowboys night went from bad to worse after a dreadful Captain Challenge call was conceded after replays showed Reuben Cotter clearly stripped the ball. They were lucky to survive after a poor last tackle option from Brad Schneider saw his kick find the sideline.
The Cowboys had a golden chance denied with Jeremiah Nanai obstructing Jack Wighton as Scott Drinkwater found space in sending Kyle Feldt over.
Canberra blew a tryscoring opportunity when Elliott Whitehead got to Wighton’s chip kick first, but couldn’t gather the ball in.
North Queensland found themselves lucky to not trail by more than the 12-0 scoreline at half-time given the Raiders dominance in the opening forty. They opened up through the middle quite easily on occasions.
Both sides were guilty of poor discipline at times which created a stop-start game, with twelve penalties in the opening forty.
HALF-TIME: Canberra Raiders 12 North Queensland Cowboys 0Embed from Getty Images
North Queensland Cowboys needed to be the first to score in the second half and they obliged after six minutes when Heilum Luki scored after the Raiders gave away consecutive penalties.
The Raiders had a chance to extend their lead after 55 minutes when Josh Papalii linked with Schneider who got over the line but was held up. This was the first of three moments that turned the tide.
The second came with twenty minutes remaining when Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad lost the ball cold in a tackle ten metres from his own line. The Cowboys levelled scores with Valentine Holmes running onto a pass at speed to score under the posts.
The Cowboys hit the lead with eleven minutes to play after a turnover by rookie Raider Xavier Savage in his own half. Scott Drinkwater had the ball on a string, kicking behind the Raiders defensive line for Nanai to score.
Canberra had their opportunities with the clock running down but execution let them down, with Papalii and Joseph Tapine getting in each other’s way on an attacking raid on the Cowboys line.
North Queensland completing a superb comeback after looking on the ropes at half-time with Holmes and Drinkwater being influential on the result.
The Raiders once again conceded a double-digit lead to slump to their third consecutive loss.
FULL-TIME: Canberra Raiders 12 North Queensland Cowboys 18
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Valentine Holmes (Cowboys), 2 pts – Tom Starling (Raiders), 1 pt – Scott Drinkwater (Cowboys)
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