Lachy MacCorquodale reviews the final game of Magic Round, featuring the Wests Tigers and the North Queensland Cowboys.
Wests Tigers 12
Tries: Junior Tupou (13), Luke Garner (29)
Goals: Jackson Hastings 2 (15, 30)
North Queensland Cowboys 36
Tries: Scott Drinkwater (7), Murray Taulagi 2 (18, 48), Reuben Cotter (36), Peta Hiku (57), Jeremiah Nanai (77)
Goals: Valentine Holmes 4 (35, 38, 50, 77)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
After a day of upsets in the NRL, the Wests Tigers were hoping for a similar result when they ran out to face the Cowboys this Sunday night.
However, the Cowboys had other ideas. North Queensland opened the scoring in the seventh minute after one of the most incredible passes to keep the ball infield by Murray Taulagi. The winger was almost two metres over the sideline as he threw the ball back in towards Scott Drinkwater, who caught it and ran it in for the opener.
It didn’t take long for the Tigers to respond, with debutant Junior Tupou showcasing his athleticism as he chased a Jackson Hastings bomb and caught it at full speed, resulting in a try on debut for the youngster. The Cowboys pushed back in front with a play down the left edge which saw Murray Taulagi score in the corner for his first of the evening.
The play from both sides in the opening parts of the first half was excellent, with minimal errors and a high tempo.
The Tigers suffered a few injuries but managed to stay in the game and were rewarded for their effort down the right edge as a great cut out ball from Luke Brooks found Luke Garner, who ran the ball over for the try.
The Cowboys, as they have for most of the night, responded almost immediately. A Zane Musgrove dropped ball from a bomb resulted in Reuben Cotter regaining the ball, passing it to Chad Townsend who took it right and held the defenders, before passing to Kyle Feldt on the wing to put the Cowboys back in front.
As painful as that was for the Tigers, the next two minutes would be even worse.
In the Cowboys next set, Cotter broke several tackles and charged through the Tigers line. The middle forward was able to sell Starford To’a with a dummy and ran it under the posts to give the Cowboys an eight-point lead heading into half time.
HALF-TIME: Wests Tigers 12 North Queensland Cowboys 20Embed from Getty Images
It only took minutes before the Tigers were dealt with another injury blow. After losing Jake Simpkin in the first half, Luke Brooks exited the field with a hamstring injury, leaving Hastings and co with a tough task ahead.
The Cowboys were the first on the scoresheet in the second half, as Taulagi charged onto a Townsend grubber, curling his way before grounding the ball for his second of the evening.
The Cowboys continued to attack the Tigers, and once again got on the scoresheet. This time the Cowboys attacked the right edge of the Tigers, as Tom Dearden drifted from the left side of the field to the right, before passing it to Peta Hiku who got on the outside of his man and scored in the corner to extend the Cowboys lead.
Despite being down to 15 men, the Tigers managed to keep the reigns on the Cowboys points tally as they toughed it out during the last 20 minutes of the game.
However, just when you thought the Tigers would keep the Cowboys scoreless over the last 20 minutes of the contest, they struck again.
Dearden registered his second try assist of the night with a bomb kick, aimed for Jeremiah Nanai, who leapt brilliantly into the air, out marking Ken Maumalo and coming down with the football to score his sides’ seventh try of the evening.
Another win for the Cowboys and they secure third spot on the ladder for another week, meanwhile, the Tigers drop to 15th with a massive clash against the 16th placed Bulldogs next week.
FULL-TIME: Wests Tigers 12 North Queensland Cowboys 36
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Reuben Cotter (Cowboys), 2 pts – Chad Townsend (Cowboys), 1 pt – Tom Dearden (Cowboys)
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