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Fulltime score: Round 25 South Sydney Rabbitohs 16 v North Queensland Cowboys 30
The North Queensland Cowboys have consolidated their position in the top 8 with a competent victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs by 30-16.
The early stages of the game were fast paced with Luke O?Donnell for the Cowboys crashing over in the 3rd minute before Ashley Harrison responded for Souths four minutes later, taking a two point lead from the conversion.
That was the only time they held the lead though, with North Queensland stepping up in the 16th minute after Matt Sing scored the first of his three tries on the day. Further tries to forwards David Faiumu and Travis Norton gave the Cowboys a handy 18-6 lead going into the break. In between the video ref denied the Rabbitohs a chance to even things up in the 31st minute.
With the Cowboys picking up from where left off in the first half the game appeared over in the 53rd minute following Sing?s second try and a commanding 26-6 lead. But the Bunnies fought back gallantly and never stopped trying scoring back-to-back tries and giving North Queensland a scare at 26-16 with 13 minutes left to play.
It wasn?t to be though, with Sing capping off a great game close to the death and sealing victory at 30-16, ensuring that they have 6th position locked up nicely. It sets up the possibility of an all-Queensland showdown in the first week of the semis presenting a mouth watering delight for those north of the border.
For the Rabbitohs young centre Yileen ?Buddy? Gordon was placed on report for a high tackle on Luke O?Donnell and may face the judiciary.
Rabbitohs v Cowboys match photos: Click here to see the photo gallery for this game
STH SYDNEY RABBITOHS 16 Tries: Harrison, Wood, Polglase Goals: Sutton 1/2, Champion 1/1
NTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS 30 Tries: Sing 3, O'Donnell, Faiumu, Norton Goals: Hannay 3/7
Central Coast Stadium Referee: Shayne Hayne Halftime: Cowboys 18-6
Beautiful day up here on the Central Coast with the sun shining and the birds singing. Should be a fantastic game of footy.
Cowboys get things underway, but an early mistake by Souths sees a turnover.
3 min: TRY - Cowboys. Backrower Luke O'Donnell forces his way over the stripe in an early shock to the Bunnies. Hannay fails to convert. Cowboys 4 Rabbitohs 0.
7 min: TRY - Rabbitohs. The Bunnies hit back through out-going captain Ashley Harrison showing a clean pair of heels. Sutton assumes the kicking duties in Walker's absence and proves himself capable. Rabbitohs 6 Cowboys 4.
12 min: NEWS - the game is settling down a little now after an early flurry. Both sides will want to get their defence in order though with quite a few missed tackles early on.
16 min: TRY - Cowboys. Matt Sing finds some room on the flanks and scoots away for a good try. Hannay misses again and North Queensland cling to a small lead. Cowboys 8 Rabbitohs 6.
19 min: NEWS - 'Buddy' Gordon on report for a high shot on Cowboys Luke O'Donnell.
27 min: NEWS - Ball control has picked up and both teams are really firing here with an interesting contest unfolding.
28 min: TRY - Cowboys. Replacement forward David Faiumu powers over for the visitors with a strong effort. Hannay discovers his measure finally and pots the goal. Cowboys 14 Rabbitohs 6.
31 min: NEWS - Video referee denies the Bunnies a try.
35 min: TRY - Cowboys. Captain Travis Norton wends his way through the Rabbitohs line to post the Cowboys' fourth try. Hannay misses again. Cowboys 18 Rabbitohs 6.
Halftime: What looked like a fairly even contest in the early stages has now seen the Cowboys dominate the first half from about 15 minutes in. The Bunnies are certainly not out of this one though, with their recent victories over the Roosters and Raiders coming after being 12 points down before mounting a comeback. To do that they will need to achieve more possession than they are currently enjoying.
The Bunnies get us underway in the second half!
50 min: PENALTY GOAL - Cowboys. Hannay gives the visitors a nice buffer following an infringement in the ruck. Both teams just sorting themselves out in the opening stages of the first half. Cowboys 20 Rabbitohs 6.
53 min: TRY - Cowboys. Matt Sing gets his second for the day as the Cowboys take the game by the scruff of the neck. Hannay adds the extras. Cowboys 26 Rabbitohs 6.
63 min: TRY - Rabbitohs. Garth Wood, coming in for the suspended Luke MacDougall, posts a try for the home team. Sutton can't get this one between the posts. Cowboys 26 Rabbitohs 10.
67 min: TRY - Rabbitohs. The Bunnies have a bit of a sniff here with another try through fullback Todd Polglase crossing the chalk. Beau Champion takes over the kicking duties and puts one over. Cowboys 26 Rabbitohs 16.
76 min: TRY - Cowboys. Matt Sing completes a hat-trick as the Cowboys snuff-out a late challenge by the Rabbitohs. Hannay misses again capping an unusually bad day with the boot for him. Cowboys 30 Rabbitohs 16.
Fulltime: The Cowboys prevail here on the Central Coast over a gallant Rabbitohs outfit that never gave up.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - M Sing (Cowboys) 2 - J Thurston (Cowboys) 1 - A Harrison (Rabbitohs) -----------------------------------------