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The North Queensland Cowboys have defeated the Canberra Raiders 28-22 in a thrilling match at Dairy Farmers Stadium. In a match that went back and forth for the duration, the Cowboys secured victory in the 72nd minute with Ashley Graham crashing over the line.
While the team looked to be a different outfit from last week, the North Queensland Cowboys looked to be far from their best as a team. However, the individual performances of Matthew Bowen and Johnathan Thurston were astounding as they inspired their side to grind out a thrilling victory, just a week after being thrashed by the Wests Tigers.
The Canberra Raiders were good in patches, but failed to capitalise on some strong opportunities. It didn't help losing William Zillman early in the night, with an injury that could rule him out for the rest of the season. Alan Tongue was off the field for a portion of the match with a facial injury whereas he was struggling to stem the bleeding.
Todd Carney opened the scoring for the Raiders after taking a brilliant intercept in the 13th minute, just moments after he bombed a certain try. The Cowboys hit back in the 20th minute through a brilliant passage of play through Matt Bowen, who was at his destructive best.
Seven minutes later, the match turned again as Joe Picker capitalised on a Scott Minto error. The Raiders were the dominant force in the first 30, but quickly collapsed as the Cowboys switched on to score two brilliant tries through Ben Farrar within a minute of each other to equalise the scores (12-12) at half time.
The second half didn't start well for the Cowboys, knocking on in the first set of the half. The Raiders took advantage with Joe Picker scoring his 2nd of the night to swing the match back into the favour of the Raiders. The Raiders held the Cowboys out until the 59th minute, with Ashley Graham finding the line for his first try of the night. Minutes later, Thurston equalised the scores before the match winning try was scored by Ashley Graham to finally decide a thrilling game of football.
The Cowboys looked far from their best, but they were certainly an improved side from the disaster of last week. Despite playing injured, Thurston looked to be playing near his best, which was well complimented by the dynamic display by Matt Bowen- a well deserved Leagueunlimited.com Man of the match. They have kept their finals hopes alive, but they will need to improve further if they are to have any chance of winning their first premiership.
While the Raiders can still technically make the finals, they just don't look consistent or threatening enough to be a premiership winning team.
Match Details Round 21 - Full Time :: August 4th, 2007 07:30 PM Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium Referee: Tony Archer Half time: 12 all
North Queensland Cowboys 28 Tries: Matthew Bowen, Ben Farrar (2), Ashley Graham (2), Johnathan Thurston Goals: Ashley Graham (2/5), Johnathan Thurston (0/1) Canberra Raiders 22 Tries: Todd Carney, Joe Picker (2), Matt Bickerstaff Goals: Michael Dobson (3/4)
A few changes here- For the Cowboys, Shane Muspratt, Neil Sweeney, Steve Southern and Ben Vaeau all come into the side.
We have lift-off here!
2 min: Cowboys get an early penalty and almost cross the line early, only to be pulled up for a forward pass. A good start here by the Cowboys, showing good signs.
7 min: Glen Turner struggling in back-play with some sort of injury.
8 min: Raiders get a good opportunity near the Cowboys line, but fail to capitalise with Ashley Graham knocking the football on. The Cowboys have looked sloppy, but they are certainly running the ball with enthusiasm.
10 min: Big Carl Webb makes a great break down the middle. The Cowboys just miss scoring a try on the last tackle, but the Raiders have knocked the ball away. The Cowboys get another set cose to the line.
11 min: Thurston held up only inches from the line. The Cowboys kick the ball dead on the last tackle and fail to capitalise on a good opportunity. However, they are looking a different outfit to the side who were thrashed by the Tigers.
12 min: William Zillman breaks the line, but has been hit awkwardly by Matt Bowen and appears to have injured his ankle. The Raiders force the Cowboys to put the ball dead and will get another set. Big blow as Zillman leaves the field- he won't be back.
13 min: Todd Carney has bombed a try after he got through the defence, only to have the ball knocked out over the line. The Cowboys regain possession and get a piggyback penalty- in great position here.
13 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Well from one end of the field to another, Todd Carney takes a brilliant intercept just metres away from the Raiders line. He runs the length of the field untouched to score the first points of the night. Conversion attempt by Michael Dobson successful. Canberra Raiders 6-0
20 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Matty Bowen has just scored a breath-taking try, leaving this live updater hot and flustered and wanting to have his children. It was a brilliant display of speed, agility and footwork and epitomises the skill this Cowboys side has. Conversion attempt by Ashley Graham unsuccessful. Canberra Raiders 6-4
24 min: Alan Tongue looks in trouble with blood streaming from his nose. The Raiders cannot afford to lose him, but it doesn't look like he can stem the bleeding. He is refusing to leave the field.
26 min: Scott Minto knocks on for the Cowboys on the first tackle deep in his own territory and gives the Raiders another shot. Tongue has been caught by the referee and sent to the back to get his nose cleaned up. The Raiders are looking to extend their lead.
27 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Scott Minto's error has cost him dearly as the Raiders cross through the big Joe Picker. The Cowboys rushed out of the line to try and force an error, creating an overlap for the Raiders to score. Joe Picker had his work cut out for him but managed to beat two men to cross the line. Conversion attempt by Michael Dobson successful. Canberra Raiders 12-4
30 min: Matt Scott penalised for a high shot on a Raiders player. Yet again, The Raiders are in fantastic position and the Cowboys look tired.
30 min: And the Raiders knock on just inches out from the line. A let off for the Cowboys as they try to get themselves back into this clash.
33 min: Alan Tongue has left the field with the injury to his nose- a big blow for the Raiders. Meanwhile Thurston has made a great shoulder charge (with his bad shoulder I might add). The Raiders have knocked on and the Cowboys are on the attack just 20 out.
33 min: Video Referee called for a possible Cowboys try...
34 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys The Cowboys have hit back on the back of a Raiders error, with Ben Farrar easily strolling across the line to put themselves back in this match. Thurston is trying to inspire his team here as they fight to keep their finals hopes alive. Conversion attempt by Ashley Graham unsuccessful. Canberra Raiders 12-8
35 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys This live updater didn't have time to scratch himself before Thurston threw a great inside ball to Matt Bowen, who bursts through the line, offloading to Ben Farrar who crosses for his 2nd in as many minutes. A dominant 30 minutes by the Raiders has been undone by some Cowboys brilliance. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston unsuccessful. 12 all
39 min: The Cowboys narrowly miss scoring yet again, with Tony Archer ruling a forward pass from a great play by the Cowboys. Carl Webb looks less than impressed by the decision.
HALF TIME 12-12
A very hot and cold game of Rugby League here tonight. Just as the Raiders looked to be dominating, they've let the Cowboys back in to this match. Johnathan Thurston has looked brilliant so far, with Matty Bowen not far behind. It should be a very entertaining second half, with the Cowboys looking to just have that edge at this time
Leading Metres: Matt Bowen- 168 Todd Carney- 106 Carl Webb- 101
Tackles: Alan Tongue- 18 Sam Faust- 15 Lincoln Withers- 15
Completions: Cowboys- 14/20 Raiders- 15/18
Possession: Cowboys- 57% Raiders- 43%
40 min: We're underway here and the Cowboys knock on 10 out from their own line. Great chance here for the Raiders early in the 2nd half, and just the luck they needed.
43 min: Footage of Alan Tongue with half of the North Pole on his nose- the Raiders need him back out on the field.
43 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Joe Picker has ended a bizarre set for the Raiders by being in the right place at the right time. Phil Graham has thrown a wild flick pass just inches out for Picker who has had to basically fall on it to score. Conversion attempt by Michael Dobson successful. Canberra Raiders 18-12
44 min: Costigan leaves the field with an injury after a big tackle from Southern. He is replaced by Dane Tilse.
46 min: The Raiders put the Cowboys under the pump, but fail to capitalise. The Cowboys survive and need to tighten up their play. As I say that, they knock on and the Raiders are on the attack again.
47 min: Neil Sweeney takes a great catch in goal to diffuse the Raiders attack. I don't know how long the Cowboys can keep this up without tightening up in their general play.
50 min: The Cowboys are lifting their intensity in attack and defence. They need to keep this up for the last 30.
52 min: Vaeau has left the field with a leg injury- doesn't look like he'll be back. Bowen appears to be limping as well.
55 min: Possible try to the Cowboys here. If it is, it is just an amazing try by Matt Bowen.
55 min: NO TRY- Matt Bowen dropped the ball onto his foot, kicked it again and managed to chase it through to put the ball over the line. However, Tim Mander has ruled the ball hit the ground before Bowen got a foot to it. A very close call that could have gone either way, and the Raiders maintain their lead here.
57 min: Big play here. The Raiders break through the Cowboys defence, only for Matt Bowen to perform a one-on-one strip to get the ball back for the Cowboys in amazing position. A great chance here for the Cowboys to even the scores.
59 min: Possible try here for Ashley Graham- Video referee is checking the grounding.
59 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys After a bizarre passage of play, Ashley Graham has got over the line and put the Cowboys back within arms length of this match. Bad news is that Ben Farrar has just left the field with some kind of injury. The casualty ward will be busy tonight in Townsville. Conversion attempt by Ashley Graham unsuccessful. Canberra Raiders 18-16
64 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys The Cowboys hit the lead for the first time tonight through their captain, who has had a brilliant night. A well deserved try. Conversion attempt by Ashley Graham successful. North Queensland Cowboys 22-18
66 min: Possible try for the Raiders- Video Referee checking if Bickerstaff has hit the corner post, or whether the try was a result of double movement.
68 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Matt Bickerstaff does well to score in the corner for the Raiders despite some desperate defence from the Cowboys. He had plenty of work to do and still managed to get over the line. This match has gone back and forth and it is impossible to pick who is going to win it from here. However, the missed conversions from the Cowboys may come back to haunt them. Conversion attempt by Michael Dobson unsuccessful. 22 all
72 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys After the Cowboys gave the Raiders a relieving penalty, they've struck back through Ashley Graham who looks like he may have taken the game away from the Raiders. A brilliant display here from the Cowboys, but can they hold on and keep the Raiders out for the last 10? Conversion attempt by Ashley Graham successful. North Queensland Cowboys 28-22
78 min: The Raider will have two sets here to try and equalise. As I say that, they have broken the line down the side and have come within inches of scoring, only to have their attacking play diffused by the Cowboys.
80 min: The Cowboys hold on after a fantastic game of football, beating the Canberra Raiders.