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In what was a rather sloppy affair, the North Queensland Cowboys have thrashed the West Tigers 42-14, resulting in a rare home victory for the Cowboys.
The game opened in explosive fashion, as new recruit Antonio Kafuasi crashed over the line in the second minute, allowing the Cowboys to draw first blood. Whilst it looked like ominous signs for the Tigers, they would soon strike back through Marshall-esque expansive play followed up by a dominant charge from Tuiaki. However, this would prove to be an rare flash of coherent play from the Tigers during the first half, as the Cowboys would strike with successive tries. A well timed flat ball from the Cowboy standoff would send Webb crashing over ten minutes later. Likewise, a well-placed offload from Luke O'Donnell close to the Tigers line would allow Matty Bowen to weave some of his magic and dart through a small opening to extend the Cowboys lead.
Not even Bowen, however, could sustain a fast-paced game. Errors were abound through the bulk of the first half. At certain intervals, both teams would gain possession before literally losing it in a poor show of ball control.
The Tigers did, however, manage to threaten the Cowboys first half-lead on occasions. Marshall managed to break the line ten minutes before the break and almost sent a flying Moltzen through for a try. It took a rather comic fumble from Thurston in the final seconds of the half to see the Tigers post more points on the board. A re-gather from Robbie Farah put him in a footrace with Bowen before he executed a perfectly weighted grubber for John Morris to end the half at 24-10.
There were plenty of chances for both teams to score in the opening minutes of the second half. A high shot on John Williams put the Cowboys in good position for Travis Burns to force his bulky frame through an opening and extend the lead by 20. A multitude of errors and forced passes saw little coherent play until the 53rd minute when a well-exectued Tigers backline movement saw young gun Moltzen deftly slice through the Cowboys line: granting the Tigers a glimmering hope of catching the extensive lead the Cowboys now held.
This was not to last, however. A Cowboys try in the 60th minute put victory beyond reach. Two tries in quick succession, through speedy backline movements, to the Williams duo pushed the scoreline to embarassing length's.
This is not to say that the Cowboys were impressive. Both sides suffered from a chronic inability to retain the ball and consistently complete their sets. Thurston, Rovelli and Burns were standouts in a winning outfit, but the rest of the team will need to lift when they face up against a well-drilled and organized Melbourne Storm next round.
Match Summary North Queensland Cowboys 42 def Wests Tigers 14 Round 2 - Saturday March 21st, 2009 9:30pm Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville Crowd: 19,879 Referee: Jason Robinson & Phil Haines Touch Judges: Daniel Eastwood & Gavin Reynolds Video Ref: Russell Smith Halftime: Cowboys 18-10 North Queensland Cowboys 42 Tries: Antonio Kaufusi, Carl Webb, Matt Bowen, Travis Burns, Aaron Payne, Ty Williams, John Williams Goals: Johnathan Thurston (7/7)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Grant Rovelli (Cowboys) 2 Points: Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys) 1 Point: Travis Burns (Cowboys) LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Hello and welcome to tonight's live coverage of the match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the West Tigers. The game is certainly shaping up to be one with the potenial for plenty of points and linebreaks. There are exciting match-ups on hand with the likes of firebrands Ellis and Webb, coupled with brilliant Bowen and Thurston squaring off against the likes of Marshall and Farah.
There are a few changes in the team: Willie Tonga has been ruled out with fears he could be out for a month, Ty Williams has been shifted into the centres with John Williams to move onto the wing. On a positive note, flyer Ashley Graham comes in as a late inclusion to the squad. Carl Webb has moved to starting team, whilst Scott Bolton shifted to the bench. Grant Rovelli and Manaese Manuokafoa have moved onto bench, while Clint Amos and James Tamou are pushed out of team Daine Laurie has been ruled out as Payne and Galea round out the squad.
COWBOYS: 1. Matt Bowen 19. John Williams 3. Ashley Graham 2. Ty Williams 5. Ben Farrarr 6. Travis Burns 7. Johnathan Thurston (c) 8. Shane Tronc 9. Aaron Payne 10. Antonio Kaufusi 11. Carl Webb 12. Ben Harris 13. Luke O'Donnell Interchange: 14. Clint Amos 15. Scott Bolton 18. Grant Rovelli 20. Manaese Manuokafoa. TIGERS: 1. Tim Moltzen 2. Taniela Tuiaki 3. Dean Collis 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Beau Ryan 6. John Morris 7. Benji Marshall 8. Bryce Gibbs 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Gareth Ellis 12. Chris Heighington 13. Todd Payten Interchange: 14. Rhys Hanbury 15. Dene Halatau 16. Danny Galea 17. Corey Payne
1 min: Kickoff! Thurston gets us started with a deep kick. Galloway takes first hitup.
1 min: Slow opening set to the Tigers. Bowen returns the ball and the Cowboys work their way upfield. Payne through a clever ploy earns a penalty.
2 min: Cowboys threaten the Tigers line. Strong goal-line defence is keeping them out.
3 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Kaufusi easily pushes over the fragile Marshall for his seventh career try. Thurston converts from infront. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 6-0
5 min: Some lazy Cowboy defence concedes a penalty for some easy yards to the Tigers.
6 min: TRY Wests Tigers A rather fragmented play sees Marshall spread the ball to Tuiaki for a wide try. The Cowboys seemed to stop after what appeared to be a forward pass. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall unsuccessful. North Queensland Cowboys 6-4
8 min: Galloway has a first great hit-up off the kick as the Tigers continue to push through the middle of the field.
10 min: Cowboys retain the ball from the scrum. Some sloppy play sees Tuiaki kick the ball away from Bowen and almost score before Thurston recollects in a great try-saver.
12 min: Conservative play from the Tigers. Both sides are dropping a considerable amount of ball which is really stifling momentum.
13 min: A well placed kick from Burns sees O'Donnell nearly recollect and score before Cowboys regain the ball and get six again. They are constantly threatening the Tigers at their end of the field.
15 min: Webb drops the ball on the second tackle. As both sides form to scrum, it is becoming increasingly clear that both are struggling with ball control as the Tigers drop the ball off a set-play.
16 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Shocking ball control from the Tigers see Webb crashing over after a well-placed, short flat ball. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 12-4
19 min: Cowboys slow down the momentum with a solid set. Payne is demonstrating his skill in exploiting a tired ruck. The kick from Thurston finds touch as both sides form in a scrum.
20 min: After a soft penalty to the Tigers, they lose the ball through an unecessary offload before Halatau gives away a penalty through failing to be square at marker.
21 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys After failing to contain O'Donnell, a well placed offload to Bowen sees him race under the sticks. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 18-4
24 min: Cowboys are making easy metres through the middle of the ruck before getting a long kick away courtesy of Bowen.
25 min: Some tit for tat play as both sides complete their sets and successfully get long kicks away.
26 min: After some hopeful looking runs, Morris gives away a penalty by pushing away Thurston who was standing in the ruck.
26 min: After gaining the ball near the Tigers 20m line, Cowboys drop the ball before giving away a simple penalty through poor discipline.
30 min: Cowboys are looking tired in defence as Marshall breaks the line and almost gets a poor pass away to Moltzon who drops it. Cowboys regain the ball on their own 20.
32 min: Yet another ball is dropped by the Cowboys on the 40m line. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the humid weather is playing its part in fatigue.
34 min: Tigers are continuing to exploit the poor positioning from the Cowboys wingers by putting in long, threatening kicks behind the line.
35 min: Exciting passage of play as Bowen almost recollects the ball from an accurate Thurston kick before Moltzon heroically regathers.
37 min: A solid set from the Cowboys sees them attacking the line well within Tigers territory.
39 min: Thurston, attempting to break the Tigers line on the 20m line, fumbles the ball comically before it slips into a rampaging Farah's hands.
HALFTIME: A rather dismal performance by both teams, all things considered. There has been plenty of dropped ball and fumbled try attempts. Both sides have looked threatening at times but the clear driver in this match is the humid, tropical weather which is taking a physical toll on the players in this match.
40 min: Kickoff! Marshall gets proceedings back underway
41 min: Tigers regain possession on their own 30m line before kicking it into open field. A high shot on John Williams by Lawrence gives away a penalty.
43 min: Cowboys once again look threatening 15m away from the Tigers line as Scott bends the defensive line.
46 min: In line with tonights precedent, Cowboys drop the ball 20m from their own line and now must defend.
47 min: Solid contact from Manuokafoa looses the ball free from Ellis
48 min: Amazingly, Morris loses the ball from feeding the scrum and Thurston recovers to grant Cowboys possession.
49 min: After fielding the long kick, Cowboys drag Tuiaki out of bounds and Cowboys get possession on the Tigers 20m line.
50 min: Tigers drop-out after Rovelli puts in a well balanced grubber into goal-area.
53 min: Tigers work their way up-field through expansive play and looking threatening
53 min: TRY Wests Tigers On the back of good hands and ball-play, Moltzen deftly slices through the Cowboys defence, making it look easy, Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall unsuccessful. North Queensland Cowboys 24-14
55 min: Halatau makes a bust up the middle of the field and Tigers are looking threatening on the halfway line.
56 min: Cowboys are looking tired as they regain the ball and take it up field before putting in a well-placed kick for Moltzen.
57 min: 40/20! A beautiful kick from Farah puts the Tigers within the Cowboys 30 and on the front foot.
58 min: Tigers get a penalty on the back of a Marshall bomb and look dangerous once again.
60 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Burns continues his masterful performance by putting in a perfectly weighted grubber through the heart of the Tigers ruck before Payne regathers and scores under the post. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 30-14
64 min: After attacking on the Cowboys line for an entire set, a flat cross-field kick deflates all the pressure and Cowboys regain possession.
65 min: Sloppy ball control and loose ball carries have seen possession switch back and forth before Tigers put in a kick which is defused by Ben Farrarr.
68 min: An astray kick from Morris out on the full on their Cowboys 20m line lets them off the hook and Cowboys regain much needed possession.
70 min: After a promising set of play, Marshall throws a forward pass to Lawrence who looks to be in the clear. Scrum sets on the Tigers 20m line.
70 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys After spreading the ball across the face of the Tigers goal-line, Rovelli gives a neat ball to Williams to go over for another try and what looks like a sure Cowboys victory. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 36-14
74 min: After poor ball control from Payten, Bowen recovers and is subsquently smashed.
75 min: Gibbs looks to be in strife next week with the judicary after he flung himself into a completed tackle. Cowboys back on the attack on the Tigers 10m line.
76 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys A cut-out ball from Bowen sets Williams up for a brilliant dive for the corner-post, managing to keep his body in touch against all odds. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 42-14
79 min: Cowboys keep up the myriad of dropped ball tonight after dropping the ball on their own 30m after the Tigers kick off. Following the scrum, Tigers also drop the ball thanks to a dodgy pass! Both sides seem to look resigned with the current score and are happy to let the clock run.
80 min: Fulltime! No real brilliant stand-outs from either side but it is clear that the Cowboys stood well above the dismal Tigers and their poor handling.