Canterbury display premiership credentials

The Canterbury Bulldogs keep their minor premiership hopes alive with a second half comeback. Dogs trailed 12-6 at half-time, but they kept the Cowboys scoreless in the second half to win 22-12 in a tough match at Townsville. The Cowboys final hopes are now in doubt as the loss could see them drop as low as 11th on the table.

The Dogs were behind at half time and with injuries to forwards Hickey and Hodgson they looked in trouble. Jonathon Thurston was close to his best in the first half as the Cowboys dominated. The 12-6 halftime score flattered the Dogs.

The second half was a one-sided affair as El Masri crossed for a try straight after the break. After that it was all the Bulldogs as they scored again and also claimed two penalty goals on the back of a poorly disciplined Cowboys side. From that point the result was never in doubt.

The Bulldogs have cemented a home semi-final, and have kept their chances of the minor premiership alive. The Cowboys fate now depends on results of other matches as they fall back into the pack of five teams all vying for the last few finals spots. One thing is certain - the Cowboys must now win their remaining three matches to stay in the hunt.

The Dogs forwards made the difference tonight. After 40 minutes of being pushed around they came out firing. Led by Stagg and Ryan they did not take a backward step in the second half. This gave Kimmorley & Roberts a platform to work with. Goodwin looked dangerous each time he got the ball and El Masri was as reliable as ever with his goal kicking.

This season is far from over.

Match Details
Canterbury Bulldogs 22 def North Queensland Cowboys 12
Round 23 - Friday August 14th, 2009 07:35pm Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville Referee: Shayne Hayne & Jason Robinson
Sideline Officials: Steve Chiddy & Gavin Morris
Video Referee: Bill Harrigan Crowd: 18199 Halftime: North Queensland Cowboys 12 Canterbury Bulldogs 6

North Queensland Cowboys 12
Tries: Johnathan Thurston, Willie Tonga
Goals: Johnathan Thurston (2/2)

Canterbury Bulldogs 22
Tries: Josh Morris, Hazem El Masri, Bryson Goodwin
Goals: Hazem El Masri (5/5)

LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: David Stagg (Bulldogs) 2 Points: Ben Roberts (Bulldogs) 1 Point: Michael Ennis (Bulldogs)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about the game as it happens - Cowboys v Bulldogs forum discussion - click here!

COWBOYS: 1. Matthew Bowen 2. Ty Williams 3. Ash Graham 4. Willie Tonga 5. John Williams 6. Grant Rovelli 7. Johnathon Thurston 8. Shane Tronc 9. Anothoy Watts 10. Matt Scott 11. Carl Webb 12. Scott Bolton 13. Luke O'Donnell Interchange: 14. Steve Southern 15. Steve Rapira 16. Antonio Kafusi 17. James Tamou 18. Manese Manukafoa; Reserves: 19. Travis Burns BULLDOGS: 1. Luke Patten 2. Hazem El Masri 3. Josh Morris 4. Jamal Idris 5. Bryson Goodwin 6. Ben Roberts 7. Brett Kimmorley 8. Jarrad Hickey 9. Michael Ennis 10. Michael Hodgson 11. Gary Warburton 12. Andrew Ryan 13. David Stagg Interchange: 14. Brad Morrin 15. Chris Armit 16. Greg Eastwood 17. Yileen Gordon

Big game coming up tonight. Second vs Sixth. The Bulldogs can keep their minor premiership hopes alive with a win. The Cowboys need the win to stay inside the top eight and they start favourites as they have the home ground advantage and Canterbury miss key players Patten and Hannant.

Team changes:

El Masri will start fullback with Morris staying on the wing - expect the Canterbury backline to shuffle around to cover the absence of Patton. Eastwood goes into the starting side and Warburton goes back to the bench.

John Williams is out for the Cowboys and Michael Bani comes into the side. Anthony Watts and Matthew Scott go to the bench and Southern and Manuokafoa go to the starting side. Cowboys bench is Watts, Scott, Rapira and Tamou.

Weather is clear and fine in Townsville. Expecting a big crowd and an exciting match for The Reconciliation Cup that is contested between these two clubs.

Cowboys to kick off - game to start very soon

1 min: Thurston kicks off and we're away

2 min: Cowboys work it out from their own 20

2 min: And they turn it over in the first set, but the dogs drop it and the Cowboys get the scrum feed. Awful pass from the play-the-ball by Stagg

3 min: Cowboys attack, Goodwin takes a high kick well and Canterbury run it back

5 min: Millard takes a bomb right on the line and the Dogs run it back again. The Cowboys are getting the best of the territory as the teams go set for set

6 min: Tonga fumbles and it's called knock-on right on the Cowboys 40. Dogs attack

6 min: Eastwood drops the ball as the Dogs attack the line for the first time. Carl Webb forces the error and the Cowboys run it out

8 min: Turnover to Cowboys as the Dogs make it 70 metres in the last set

11 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Thurston combines with Webb to score. It was all Thurston as he put Webb in a gap, backed up to take the offload and step through to score on the sixth tackle. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 6-0

13 min: Cowboys attacking down the right side but it is called back for a forward pass. Tough call - but lucky for Canterbury

15 min: Dogs attack the Cowboys line but the defence holds - no way through for Canterbury and it's a turnover.

16 min: Another turnover in their own territory as Tronc drops the ball. A penalty in the first tackle puts the Dogs right on the Cowboys line.

18 min: VIDEO REF - Hickey may have scored after some deft passing from Idris & Kimmorley

18 min: REFS CALL - Robinson declares no try

19 min: Tap restart for the Cowboys

19 min: Goodwin runs 50 metres following a deep kick from the Cowboys and the Dogs get another penalty inside the Cowboys half

20 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Josh Morris scores after Goodwin gets outside Bani and throws a great inside pass. The move was set up with a ling cut out pass from Ben Roberts. Conversion attempt from the sideline by Hazem El Masri successful. 6 all

22 min: Cowboys have it on the half way

22 min: Millard is pushed back in goal as he easily takes a Thurston kick, but shows no urgency at all

24 min: Another line drop out for Canterbury on the back of a solid set by the Cowboys

25 min: Penalty to Cowboys right on the Dogs line

26 min: VIDEO REF - Hayne goes to the video checking for obstruction. NO TRY. Tough Call

27 min: Time off - Hickey down after a big head clash with Carl Webb

27 min: Hickey off in the medi-cab in a neck brace.

28 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys They can't deny Tonga this time as he runs straight through the weak attempt by El Masri. Easy try to make up for the try disallowed earlier. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. Another great kick from the sideline. North Queensland Cowboys 12-6

30 min: With Hickey taken to hospital and Hodgson being treated in the rooms the Bulldogs bench is short

31 min: Cowboys attacking the Dogs line again, but a forward pass relieves the pressure for Canterbury and they run it out from their own line

34 min: Canterbury get a penalty on their 30 to get them moving forwards again

34 min: Messy fumble gives the ball back to the Cowboys

36 min: Ennis caught in his own half on the 6th. Another mistake from the Dogs

37 min: More pressure for the Dogs as El Masri knocks the ball down right on the Dogs line

38 min: VIDEO REF - looks like a try to Ty Williams in the corner

38 min: NO TRY - his foot just on the sideline

39 min: Cowboys scrum feed on the Dogs 20. Last attacking play before half time

39 min: Thurston spills it to nullify the attack

HALF TIME - The Cowboys could easily be further in front. Their forwards have dominated the ruck area and Thurston, Bowen and Tonga have looked dangerous whenever they cared to get involved. The Cowboys have kept Canterbury pinned with a good long kicking game and the Dogs have not offered much in opposition.

Canterbury are still well in this match - if they can reduce the error rate and put some sustained pressure on the Cowboys. Unless things change, expect the Cowboys to go with the momentum that they have created.

41 min: Dogs restart and Cowboys work it out from near their line

41 min:Watts puts the kick out on the full going for a 40/20. Immediate pressure on the Cowboys

41 min: Penalty as O'Donnell hits Stagg high - Dogs attack again

43 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Armit slips a perfect ball for El Masri as the Dogs take a quick tap right after half time. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. 12 all

44 min: Dogs attacking again straight from the kick off. They have come out of the sheds fired up

45 min: 40/20 from a huge kick from Bowen. Big play.

46 min: Time off - another head clash Idris & Tonga. Both down.

46 min: Idris is up and will continue. Tonga still receiving attention on the field.

47 min: Match continues with a turnover to Canterbury on their own 10 metre line as Tonga is assisted from the field

48 min: Canterbury do well to force Ashley Graham over the sideline after they drop the ball to turnover possession.

Canterbury now run it out.

52 min: VIDEO REF - possible try to Goodwin in the corner on the back of an impressive attacking raid by the Dogs down the left side. Looks doubtful

52 min: NO TRY - last tackle turnover. Cowboys to run it out from their own line

54 min: Cowboys run it out again. Play has been in their half for the last five minutes.

57 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs 70 metre try as the Dogs counter attack from a Cowboys kick. Roberts linked with Eastwood who then offloaded to the pacier Goodwin. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful with a kick that glanced off the post. Canterbury Bulldogs 18-12

59 min: Cowboys run it from their own 20

60 min: Penalty to Canterbury - Thurston obstructing kick chasers

60 min: PENALTY GOAL Canterbury Bulldogs - Easy kick for El Masri puts the Dogs 8 points clear

Canterbury Bulldogs 20-12

65 min: Another penalty in kicking range for the Dogs as Ennis has his legs taken out as he kicks the ball

65 min: PENALTY GOAL Canterbury Bulldogs. Another simple kick for El Masri

Canterbury Bulldogs 22-12

67 min: Penalty to the Cowboys deep in their own territory relieves some pressure as they attack, desperate to score next

68 min: Idris takes a kick at his bootlaces to end the Cowboys raid. Dogs run it out.

69 min: Canterbury defend their line well again and run it back

71 min: Cowboys throw it forward on the first tackle right on their own line. Looking to go wide, they have put the Dogs in the attack

72 min: Dogs attacking the Cowboys line again

73 min: Repeat set with the Cowboys offside.

75 min: Cowboys end a disappointing set with Thurston kicking out on the full

76 min: Penalty to the Cowboys on the back of another attacking raid from the Bulldogs

79 min: Cowboys attacking near the Dogs line

79 min: The raid ends with a forward pass and the Dogs have the scrum feed

80 min: That's the match - Canterbury never gave the Cowboys a look in the second half.

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