Controversial call denies fast-finishing Eagles

The North Queensland Cowboys have defeated the Manly Sea Eagles 22-20 in controversial circumstances tonight in front of a packed Dairy Farmers Stadium.

After an error riddled start, Manly fullback William Hopoate brought the game to life on 12 minutes. His around the corner ball hit Michael Robertson on the chest, who dived over to cap a remarkable piece of play. Daly Cherry-Evans missed the difficult conversion from the sideline.

The Cowboys hit back 9 minutes later after a penalty gave them good field position. From the ensuing set a simple inside pass found Matt Bowen, who ran into a yawning gap to score beneath the posts. Johnathan Thurston easily kicked the conversion from right in front.

2 minutes later and the Cowboys were in again. Johnathan Thurston put through a nice grubber that was gathered by Hopoate, only to lose it in some strong defense from Willie Tonga. Thurston was in the right place at the right time and pounced on the loose ball to score.

Things went from bad to worse for Manly after some awful defense on their own line just 4 minutes later. Aaron Payne threw a neat little dummy and strolled over from dummy half as Manly defenders were left scratching their heads.

Both teams looked tired heading into halftime. The Cowboys lead 16-4 and with the way Manly were playing they looked set with more of the same in the second half.

The second half started relatively quietly until the 56th minute when the Cowboys found the line again. Matt Bowen crossed for his second try for the night after some great lead up work from Thurston. There were some question marks over an obstruction by Tariq Sims, but the video ref gave the green light and the Cowboys went out to a 22-4 lead.

Manly gave themselves a glimmer of hope 11 minutes later, when a smart grubber by Dally Cherry-Evans found space in the in goal area. A flying William Hopoate calmly grabbed the ball and planted it down for a try, before being clattered by a legs first challenge by Cowboy winger Ashley Graham. The incident, which was referred to the video referee, was deemed unworthy of a penalty try. Cherry-Evans nailed the conversion, taking the score to 22-10 with 15 minutes left to play.

Manly had every right to feel aggrieved by the decision, but they didn't show it, as they scored again with 8 minutes to go. A blockbusting run from Tony Williams created a bit of space on the outside after it took 4 men to stop him. A simple pass from dummy half saw Michael Oldfield dive over in the corner. Daly Cherry-Evans missed the crucial conversion from the sideline.

Manly looked to have scored again 2 minutes later, when a Tony Williams offload was batted forward by Sims. Manly back rower Glenn Stewart knocked the ball back to Lyon, who fumbled it backwards before finding Oldfield, who cut through a staggered line and raced over to score. The incident was again sent upstairs, and the ensuing call was equally controversial. The video referee ruled that Lyon had knocked on, despite any clear evidence to support the decision. Certainly, it was inconsistent with how such incidents have been ruled so far this year. To make matters worse, the scrum went the Cowboys way - Sims original knock on seemingly forgotten by the Video Referee.

Determined not to give up, Manly crossed the line again with just a minute remaining in the game. Jamie Lyon popped a nice pass to Anthony Watmough who ran through a gaping hole in the Cowboys defense and scored next to the posts. Surprisingly Manly opted to take the conversion despite running out of time. 22-20 to the Cowboys.

Manly's last ditch attempts to salvage a win were denied as the full time siren sounded. The Sea Eagles can consider themselves extremely unlucky tonight, whilst the Cowboys will just be happy to secure a further 2 points.

Next week North Queensland head south to face the Dragons at Kogarah on Sunday, whilst Manly host Canberra at Brookvale Oval on Monday night.

Match Details
North Queensland Cowboys 22 defeated Manly Sea Eagles 20
National Rugby League - Round 8 - Saturday April 30, 2011 7:30pm
Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium
Referee: Shayne Hayne and Gavin Morris
Video Referee: Paul Simpkins
Touch Judges: Daniel Eastwood and Chris Butler
Crowd: 14,884
Halftime: North Queensland Cowboys 16 Manly Sea Eagles 4

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - William Hopoate (1 Try)
2 Points - Johnathan Thurston (1 Try, 3 Conversions)
1 Point - Tariq Sims

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (22)
Tries: Matt Bowen (2), Aaron Payne, Johnathan Thurston
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (3/4)

MANLY SEA EAGLES (20)
Tries: Anthony Watmough, Michael Robertson, William Hopoate, Michael Oldfield
Conversions: Daly Cherry-Evans (1/3), Jamie Lyon (1/1)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to tonight's clash between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Manly Sea Eagles. Both teams have made a good start to the season and will be looking to chalk up another win to move clear of the congestion below them.
The Cowboys won tonight's Toyota Cup clash with a dominant second half display. The final score was 38-10.
Team News tonight;

Cowboys: 1-17 tonight.

Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart has been ruled out again forcing a reshuffle to the Manly backline. William Hopoate will revert back to his preferred fullback position and Michael Oldfield will come onto the wing.
Kick off is scheduled for 7:30. Please join me then.
1 min: Cowboys kick off to get the game started. Manly have first possession.
2 min: Good first set from both teams.
2 min: Manly lose the ball near their own line. Cowboys on the attack.
3 min: Opportunity squandered as Glenn Hall drops the ball.
4 min: Penalty to the Cowboys. Glen Stewart went a little high there.
6 min: Matt Scott loses possession close to Manly's line.
8 min: Keiran Foran is penalized for being a little to eager to tackle Bowen.
9 min: Manly nearly score after the Cowboys let a dangerous bomb bounce. Thurston was there to save the day.
11 min: Checking a try to the Sea Eagles.
12 min: TRY
TRY! Amazing pass from William Hopoate. A one handed cut out found the chest of Michael Robertson, who beat Matt Bowen to the corner.
Manly Sea Eagles 4-0
13 min: Great first set after scoring points from Manly. Cherry-Evans finishes it up with a great 40/20. Manly get a scrum 10m out from the Cowboys line.
14 min: Oldfield drops the ball first tackle off the scrum. Manly looking very dangerous.
17 min: Ashley Graham nearly gifts Manly another try! Showed no urgency to get to the ball and only just beat Robertson to ground the ball.
19 min: Penalty to the Cowboys. Thurston only just finds touch.
21 min: TRY
Matt Bowen slices through to score just next to the posts. Thurston easily kicks the conversion.
North Queensland Cowboys 6-4
23 min: Penalty to the Cowboys from the kick off. Manly had a few guys in front of the kicker.
24 min: TRY
Back to back for the Cowboys. Thurston puts in a little grubber finding Hopoate in his in goal. Willie Tonga smashes him, knocking the ball free and Thurston is there to dive on the scraps.

Thurston misses the conversion from the sideline.
North Queensland Cowboys 10-4
27 min: Matt Bowen slices through the defense and nearly goes the distance. Hopoate shuts him down 10m from the try line.
28 min: TRY
Very lazy defense from the Sea Eagles. Aaron Payne through a dummy and went straight through the line.

Thurston nails the conversion.
North Queensland Cowboys 16-4
30 min: There has been some great kicking from both teams tonight.
32 min: Penalty to the Cowboys. Matt Ballin stripped the ball out with 2 in the tackle.
33 min: Ashton Sims drops the ball. Little bit of push and shove between Sims and Watmough.
35 min: Line drop out for Manly. Bowen runs the ball dead.
36 min: Penalty to Manly as Tariq Sims is caught offside. Manly still attacking the Cowboys line.
38 min: Faifai-Loa relieves some pressure for the Cowboys and snaps up a grubber and draws a penalty.
40 min: Halftime at Dairy Farmers Stadium. Cowboys lead this one 16-4.
41 min: We're back underway in the second half. Cowboys get first use of possession.
42 min: Drop out for the Cowboys. Keiran Foran appears to be limping for Manly.
43 min: Tariq Sims absolutely smashes Steve Matai and forces a knock on. Scrum 10m out from the Manly line.
44 min: Faifai-Loa is trapped out wide on the 6th tackle. Good defense from Manly.
45 min: George Rose drops the ball! Manly are putting a lot of pressure on themselves. Frustrations clearly evident as Rose pushes away Cherry-Evans.
45 min: Aaron Payne didn't return after halftime with an apparent elbow injury. Ray Thompson is currently playing dummy half.
47 min: Thurston's kick just rolls into touch -- much to the delight of Manly.
49 min: Line drop out for Manly. Cowboys allow the ball to bounce again. Fortunately it finds one of their players.
50 min: Matai looked to have stepped on the touchline there. No call from the touchie.
54 min: Both teams completing their sets now. The battle for field position is on.
55 min: Steve Matai drops the ball in some strong defense from Gavin Cooper and Willie Tonga.
55 min: Checking a try to the Cowboys.
56 min: TRY
Thurston runs to the line and hits Bowen out the back. Too much speed from Bowen as he scythes through the line and scores under the posts.
North Queensland Cowboys 22-4
57 min: Manly try a short kick off but it goes out on the full. Cowboys get a set of 6 inside Manly's 20.
59 min: Penalty to Manly. Ray Thompson put Jason King in a dangerous position.
60 min: Great scrambling from the Cowboys. Cherry-Evans gets taken into touch.
62 min: Winterstein drops the ball for the Cowboys. Keiran Foran also leaves the field with a quad injury suffered in the first half.
64 min: Jason King is being escorted from the field by a trainer. Gavin Cooper looks to be in some trouble for the Cowboys too.
65 min: Checking a try to Manly.
65 min: TRY
Hopoate chases through a nice kick from Cherry-Evans and grounds the ball. Possible cause for an 8 point try there after Ash Graham lead with his knees.
North Queensland Cowboys 22-10
67 min: Ordinary end to a set of six for Manly. No one wanted to get the kick away.
68 min: Line drop out for the Cowboys. Thurston and Faifai-Loa drag Hopoate back into the in goal.
68 min: Tariq Sims gets some of his own medicine and gets smashed by Tony Williams.
70 min: Cowboys knock on deep in Manly's half.
72 min: TRY
A blockbusting run from Tony Williams creates some space on the outside for Oldfield to score in the corner. Cherry-Evans missed the crucial kick.
North Queensland Cowboys 22-14
74 min: Checking a try to Manly.
74 min: NO TRY! The video ref found a little knock on from Jamie Lyon. Manly possibly a little unlucky there.
75 min: Line drop out for the Cowboys after Hopoate is caught in goal.
76 min: Faifai-Loa scores in the corner but it's called back for a forward pass from Thurston.
77 min: Penalty to Manly. Cowboys caught offside.
79 min: TRY
Jamie Lyon finds Watmough back on the inside and he strolls through the defensive line to score. Surprisingly Manly decide to take the shot at goal with very little time left.
North Queensland Cowboys 22-20
80 min: Full Time at Dairy Farmers Stadium. The Cowboys held off Manly to win 22-20.

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