Despite missing four State of Origin stars, the North Queensland Cowboys have recorded a much needed 16-8 win over the Canberra Raiders at DairyFarmers Stadium.
Having lost four in succession at home - and missing Johnathan Thurston, Willie Tonga, Matt Scott and Luke O'Donnell to Origin duties - the Cowboys went into the game as outsiders but out-enthused a sluggish Raiders outfit.
The young brigade of Cowboys forwards, led by the experienced Willie Mason, laid the platform for the new-look halves pairing of Matt Bowen and Michael Morgan.
It was Morgan who opened the scoring for the evening - the rookie halfback took the ball to the line to cross for his first try in the top grade.
But Canberra hit back in the thirteenth minute when Daniel Vidot picked up a bouncing pass from David Milne. However, North Queensland took a 12-4 lead into the break thanks to Morgan's double off a break and chip kick from winger Ashley Graham.
The visitors got themselves back into the contest via Josh McCrone - the playmaker barged through some soft defence out wide to reduce the deficit to 12-8.
The remaining points of the second half came through the boot, with penalty goals to John Williams in the 56th and 71st minute. North Queensland's scrambling defence was the other highlight, typified by LeagueUnlimited's Man of the Match Shannon McDonnell's try saver on a flying Vidot.
North Queensland take on Melbourne Storm next Saturday evening, while the Raiders need to find some spark and continuity in attack before they face the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon.
North Queensland Cowboys 16 defeated Canberra Raiders 8
National Rugby League - NRL - Round 14 - Saturday June 12, 2010 7:30pm
Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium
Referee: Matt Cecchin and Gerard Sutton
Video Referee: Chris Ward
Touch Judges: Steve Chiddy and Grant Atkins
Halftime: North Queensland Cowboys 12 Canberra Raiders 4
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (16)
Tries: Michael Morgan (2)
Conversions: John Williams (2/2)
Penalty Goals: John Williams (2/2)
CANBERRA RAIDERS (8)
Tries: Daniel Vidot, Josh McCrone
Conversions: Terry Campese (0/2)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good evening and welcome to Townsville for tonight's clash between the North Queensland Cowboys and Canberra Raiders. After being flogged by the Rabbitohs last week, the home team are desperate for a win but will be missing the talent of Origin stars Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Willie Tonga and Luke O'Donnell.
The Raiders are without NSW representatives Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Joel Monaghan.
The U20s went the way of Canberra 38-24.
IN - Shannon Gallant, Ben Harris, Dane Hogan
OUT - Michael Bani, Grant Rovelli, Antonio Kaufusi
IN - David Milne, Danny Galea
OUT - Josh Dugan, Joel Monaghan
For all the positional changes click 'Team Lists'
1 min: Kick off! Canberra receive the ball.
2 min: Both sides complete their first set without too much trouble.
4 min: Raiders' fullback David Milne tries to keep the ball in play to avoid a 40/20 but it still trickles over the sideline.
5 min: TRY
North Queensland halfback Michael Morgan dummies and takes the ball to the line for his first try in the top grade. John Williams converts.
North Queensland Cowboys 6-0
9 min: Milne is met by a solid tackle by Matt Bowen on a kick return.
10 min: Campese chips into the ingoal but Shannon Gallant ducks and weaves to somehow make his way out.
12 min: Cowboys winger John Williams knocks on attempting to field a towering bomb - Raiders hot on the attack.
13 min: TRY
The Raiders spread the ball wide to a flying David Milne, who stumbles but still manages to throw a pass along the ground - Daniel Vidot picks up the bouncing ball and scores. Campese fails to convert.
North Queensland Cowboys 6-4
16 min: Interestingly, Matt Bowen is defending in the frontline and is playing at five-eighth with Gallant at fullback.
18 min: Canberra make an error, giving the home team the ball on their 30 metre line.
21 min: Video referee - possible Cowboys try..
21 min: TRY
The Cowboys run the ball down the right flank on the last tackle before Ashley Graham cuts back infield and kicks towards the posts. Michael Morgan wins the race without a green jersey in sight. John Williams converts.
North Queensland Cowboys 12-4
23 min: Bowen kicks for the sideline and Adam Mogg looks to have made a play at the ball before it went out but the referee rules otherwise.
25 min: North Queensland get a penalty to help them out of trouble - the Green Machine is definitely spluttering at the moment.
26 min: Matt Bowen runs it on fifth tackle and is dragged down just one metre short.
29 min: An errant pass from the Raiders is picked up by Will Tupou on his own line but he gets run down by Vidot. Michael Morgan makes a surge to the line on the next play but knocks on.
31 min: A Cowboys' bomb is fielded well on the full by David Milne amongst a pack of players in the goal.
33 min: This match is really starting to liven up as the Raiders make a break through Croker.
34 min: Carl Webb now with a bullocking run down the centre - however his pass doesn't find support.
37 min: Terry Campese with an attacking kick but there's no chase in sight..
Halftime: The Cowboys have by far been the better team so far - Johnathan Thurston must be wondering why this enthusiasm hasn't been there with him at the helm. Canberra lack spark and energy but with just an eight point deficit, they're still in the game.
41 min: Second half underway!
43 min: Cowboys go the length of the field in one set! Bolton makes the initial break before John Williams crosses in the corner a few plays later but the final pass is called forward.
44 min: Ashley Graham gets the ball kicked straight to him and drops it cold.
46 min: Travis Waddell comes up with an even more comical error - he runs the ball down the short side on the last and passes over the sideline.
47 min: TRY
Canberra cross out wide after some Cowboys errors gifted them possession. Josh McCrone comes up with the try after showing strength beyond his size to power over out wide. Campese misses the conversion.
North Queensland Cowboys 12-8
50 min: With the Cowboys under pressure, a strong hit from Ben Harris forces a knock on from Picker.
53 min: The Raiders put some nice offloads together but Picker goes for one pass too many and throws it to the opposition.
55 min: Terry Campese intentionally boots it dead to give his side a rest.
56 min: Ben Harris chips over the top and regathers! Cowboys get a penalty for accidental offside after a riccochet.
56 min: PENALTY GOAL
Cowboys get a penalty for accidental offside after a riccochet and John Williams slots the extra two.
North Queensland Cowboys 14-8
59 min: Dane Tilse throws a stunning offload to Milne but the cover defence in Bowen and Gallant converges to bring him down.
60 min: Time is called off for John Williams, who stays down after being hit in a strong tackle.
61 min: Canberra now starting to make some inroads up the middle against some tiring defence.
63 min: Brilliant try saving tackle from Gallant, who takes a flying Vidot around the legs and into touch just metres from the line.
65 min: Cowboys get a penalty to take them out of their half.
66 min: Another Cowboys try denied by an arguable forward pass call - John Williams looked to have crossed in the corner.
68 min: Joel Thompson strides through the line but falls over his own feet and can't quite make it over.
70 min: It's been a tense few minutes - the Cowboys have done well to keep the Raiders at bay.
70 min: Adam Mogg hits Bowen slightly high and the fullback stays down snd earns his side a penalty - to be honest it looked like a dive to me.
71 min: PENALTY GOAL
John Williams adds the two to take the lead out to eight points with just nine minutes left.
North Queensland Cowboys 16-8
74 min: Canberra come up with a fumble working the ball off their own line - can the Cowboys get a try to put the icing on the cake?
76 min: North Queensland get another set on the attack following another Canberra error.
77 min: Video referee - possible Raiders try..
77 min: No try - halfback Josh McCrone's one-on-one strip ruled to have travelled forward.
79 min: Canberra launch a last minute raid but a Campese kick is far to big.
Fulltime: Game over here in Townsville where the Cowboys have broken a four game losing streak at home. Great win for the Cowboys considering who they were missing - the North Queensland boys were too enthusiastic for a sluggish Raiders outfit.