North Queensland went close to opening the scoring when Jason Taumalolo surged through the Roosters defense close to the line, only to lose the ball as he was reaching out. The Cowboys were able to maintain the lion’s share of possession in the first 15 minutes to keep the Roosters defense under pressure. This pressure turned into points when Jake Clifford sliced through a tackle to score the first try of the afternoon. The Cowboys had an opportunity to extend their lead to eight, but Jordan Kahu was not able to convert a penalty goal. After that, they were able to hold the Roosters scoreless for the rest of the first half and head into the break up 6-0.
The Roosters started the second half much quicker, with Angus Crichton making a big line break inside the first five minutes. They were not able to make it count on the scoreboard as the Cowboys scrambling defense was able to snuff out the opportunity. Not long after this, Jake Friend announced his return to the side with a huge 40/20 and followed this up by scoring a try out of dummy half to get the Roosters back in the game. Off the back of this, they were able maintain sustained attacking pressure on the Cowboys. As a result, Brett Morris powered his way through a few Cowboys defenders to give the Roosters a 12-6 lead.
However, the Cowboys were gifted a break when Joseph Manu dropped a bomb just outside his own line. After earning a repeat set, John Asiata was able to find a way through the Roosters tired defense to level the scores at 12 all. The last ten minutes descended into a field goal shoot-out, with both teams taking multiple shots but unable to convert. On his third attempt, Jake Clifford finally nailed a field goal for the Cowboys. He finished the game off with a penalty goal to lead North Queensland to a huge 15-12 upset of the Roosters in Gosford.
Cooper’s 300th inspires Cowboys
Gavin Cooper became the 37th player in NRL history to reach the 300 game milestone in this game. The Cowboys seemed to lift to the occasion, as they were able to hold the potent Roosters attack to nothing in the first half. No doubt getting a win for Cooper meant a lot to the Cowboys, as they somehow mustered the strength to comeback from 12-6 down to finish over the top of a good Roosters outfit in the dying stages of the game.
Rusty Roosters start slow
The Roosters were not their usual efficient selves in the opening half of this game. Much of that was due to the Cowboys strong start, however they did not make is easy for themselves either. The did not have much good field position and when they did, they produced errors or gave away silly penalties to give the Cowboys piggybacks out of their own end. This also marks the first time since 2017 the Roosters have been held scoreless in a first half of any game.
Jake’s ‘friendly’ return to first grade
Jake Friend has not played any footy since round seven, but it certainly didn’t look like it. Taking over as Roosters captain in the absence of Boyd Cordner, Friend came off bench and made an immediate impact. Firstly, he was able to nail a 40/20 out of dummy-half to get his team on the front foot in the second half. Secondly, he jumped out of dummy half again to pinch a try off the Cowboys and subsequently change the course of the game.
Clifford steps up to win shoot-out, end Cowboys losing streak
The Cowboys have struggled in recent weeks with closing out games. They’ve had a few close games go against them in the final moments. It looked as though the result may have been the same again in this one, but Jake Clifford would not allow it. He may have missed his first two shots at field goal, but he made the third one count with two minutes left to ensure the Cowboys would not be going home empty handed. This topped off a great game for Clifford, who scored the first try of the game and took the reins of the Cowboys attack in the absence of Michael Morgan.
Sydney Roosters 12
Tries: Friend, Morris
Goals: Mitchell 2/2
Drop Goals: Cronk 0/1, Keary 0/1
North Queensland Cowboys 15
Tries: Clifford, Asiata
Goals: Kahu 1/1, Clifford 2/2
Drop Goals: Clifford 1/3
Sydney Roosters: 1. Joseph Manu 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Brett Morris 5. Ryan Hall 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 13. Victor Radley 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Nat Butcher 12. Mitchell Aubusson 14. Isaac Liu Bench: 9. Jake Friend 15. Angus Crichton 16. Sitili Tupouniua 17. Poasa Faamausili
North Queensland Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Jordan Kahu 4. Tom Opacic 5. Javid Bowen 14. John Asiata 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh McGuire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Shane Wright 13. Jason Taumalolo Bench: 15. Matt Scott 16. Scott Bolton 17. Francis Molo 18. Coen Hess