The Melbourne Storm struggled in the Townsville winter heat against a determined Cowboys outfit.
North Queensland Cowboys 45
Tries: (8) Semi Valemei 5th, 8th, 43rd; Valentine Holmes 29th; Murray Taulagi 52nd, 61st; Jeremiah Nanai 64th; Chad Townsend 72nd
Goals: (6) Valentine Holmes 6th, 45th, 54th, 62nd, 66th, 73rd
One-Point Field Goal: (1) Chad Townsend 77th
The Cowboys were hosting the Melbourne Storm, who had a massive climate change to adjust to. The game took place at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, where it was a warm 26 degrees.
North Queensland had lots of possession early on, allowing them to score early points to put themselves ahead in the game. Their first two tries came from new Cowboy (and former Canberra Raider) Semi Valemei, both within the opening 10 minutes of the game. It was looking like a promising afternoon for the Cowboys.
After getting a bit more possession and gaining momentum, Melbourne were able to get themselves on the board, with Xavier Coates being the one to score their first try of the afternoon.
The Cowboys continued to dominate, Valentine Holmes scoring an unconverted try, putting themselves eight points in the lead with just 10 minutes to go in the first half.
Justin Olam scored Melbourne’s second try of the afternoon. With just five minutes remaining, the Storm were only trailing by two. It took them a while to gain momentum in the opening half, but when they did, it became a more interesting contest between the two sides.
Nick Meaney kicked a penalty goal in the final moments of the first half, levelling the score between the Storm and the Cowboys as they went into the break.
North Queensland started the second half on the right foot, with Valemei scoring his third try of the night after just five minutes.
The Storm were in good field position to once again level the scores, however a handling error gave the ball right back to the Cowboys. They used this set to make big ground.
North Queensland awarded the Storm with a penalty following an obstruction from the Cowboys. Melbourne were denied a try following this penalty after the Bunker found the ball was not grounded. In spite of this, the Storm were looking more present in the contest.
The Cowboys extended their lead once again when Murray Taulagi scored a try, converted by Holmes. They were now up by 12 points, their biggest lead of the afternoon.
The Storm found their way back once again, Nick Meaney scoring – and converting – shortly after the Cowboys extended their lead.
With two tries in three minutes, the Cowboys were looking in control of the game. Melbourne were looking like they still had a few tries in them, but were succumbing to the consistent pressure of North Queensland.
A gorgeous cross-field kick from Peta Hiku landed in the arms of Chad Townsend, who was able to plant the ball, taking the Cowboys points tally into the forties.
It was a big win for the North Queensland Cowboys. The 14-14 score-line at half-time looked promising for the Storm, and despite their best efforts in the second half, the Cowboys were too strong all round, gifting little-to-no opportunities for Melbourne to muster a comeback.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS
3 – Valentine Holmes (Cowboys)
2 – Scott Drinkwater (Cowboys)
1 – Semi Valemei (Cowboys)