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The North Queensland Cowboys have defeated the New Zealand Warriors 49-12 at Dairy Farmers Stadium this afternoon.
In a game played in sweltering heat, the Warriors were made to wear their black home jersey, making the match all the more difficult considering the oppressive conditions.
In a very evenly contested first half, the Warriors opened the scoring and were looking very sharp but two minutes from half time, the Cowboys scored their third try and took an 18-12 lead into the break.
It was the Cowboys unheralded pack that led the way yet again, outplaying a physically superior pack for the third successive week and their form would suggest they are capable of going all the way this year. Players such as Ray Cashmere, Matthew Scott, Sam Faust and Matthew Bartlett led the way against players like Steve Price, Ruben Wiki and Logan Swann.
The second half was a different story with the Cowboys opening up the field at every opportunity and laying on points at will to run away convincing winners and they now move a step closer to the grand final.
One of the highlights was original Cowboy Paul Bowman taking a shot at goal late in the match, much to the delight of his home town crowd. In his final home appearance and his 202nd match, Bowman kicked a conversion from directly in front to send the crowd into raptures.
Veteran five eighth Jason Smith also played his last game in Townsville, retiring at the completion of 2007 at the age of 35. A grand final win would cap a remarkable career for a player whose career has spanned some sixteen years of first grade football with four different clubs in Australia (Canterbury, Parramatta, Canberra and North Queensland).
For the Warriors, it was a disappointing end to a season filled with so much promise but they will be back next year and should again be a force to be reckoned with.
The Cowboys now travel to Sydney to take on Manly on Saturday night at the Sydney Football Stadium for the right to play in the grand final. It will be the Cowboys third grand final qualifier in four seasons, a great achievement for the club.
The win today was also the Cowboys seventh in succession, a new club record and with the form of Bowen and Thurston career best, Manly are by no means across the line next week.
Match Details NRL FINALS WEEK 2 - Full Time :: September 16th, 2007 04:00 PM Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium Referee: Tony Archer Half time: Cowboys 18-12
North Queensland Cowboys 49 Tries: Mark Henry, Ben Farrar (2), Ty Williams, Ashley Graham, Matthew Bowen, Jason Smith, Ray Cashmere Field Goals: Matthew Bowen (1/1) Goals: Johnathan Thurston (7/7), Paul Bowman (1/1) New Zealand Warriors 12 Tries: Michael Crocket, Tony Martin Goals: Michael Witt (2/2)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Matthew Bowen (Cowboys) 2 Points: Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys) 1 Point: Paul Bowman (Cowboys)
TEAMS (AS NAMED 11/9/07) COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Ty Williams, Ashley Graham, Paul Bowman, Ben Farrar, Justin Smith, Johnathan Thurston (c), Matthew Scott, Aaron Payne, Carl Webb, Sam Faust, Matthew Bartlett, Mark Henry Interchange: David Faiumu, Jason Smith, Jacob Lillyman, Ray Cashmere, Neil Sweeney (one to be omitted) WARRIORS: Wade McKinnon, Todd Byrne, Tony Martin, Simon Mannering, Michael Crockett, Michael Witt, Grant Rovelli, Sam Rapira, Nathan Fien, Steve Price (c), Ruben Wiki, Wairangi Koopu, Micheal Luck Interchange: Logan Swann, Evarn Tuimavave, Epalahame Lauaki, Louis Anderson, George Gatis (one to be omitted)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary 1 min: We are underway in Townsville!
5 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Michael Crockett scores out wide for the Warriors and they are looking very impressive in the early stages. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. New Zealand Warriors 6-0
12 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys The Cowboys square the ledger with a try out wide to Mark Henry and they too are looking sharp with the footy in hand. Looks like a lot of points will be scored this afternoon. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. 6 all
16 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors The Warriors are in again through Tony Martin. The Cowboys muffed the kickoff from the previous try and the Warriors were awarded a scrum ten metres out from the Warriors line. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. New Zealand Warriors 12-6
20 min: Warriors playing the game at a very fast pace at the moment and to look to be gaining the upper hand against the Cowboys.
21 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys The Cowboys tie it up through a great run from Aaron Payne who found Ben Farrar in support and he dives over to score right under the posts. Looks like fatigue may be the deciding factor in this game. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. 12 all
25 min: Todd Byrne knocks on while trying to play the ball right on the half way line. With the way this match is going, the Cowboys will probably score.
26 min: Close but no cigar for the Cowboys with Ray Cashmere brought down a metre short of the line.
32 min: Great game unfolding here with both sides still playing at a cracking pace and some great last ditch defence from the Warriors to save another try.
36 min: Ray Cashmere drops the ball over the line and the Warriors are off the hook as we go inside the final four minutes of the first half.
38 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys On the back of a great Thurston break, Ty Williams scores in the corner less than two minutes out from half time and the Cowboys will go to the break with a lead and a huge psychological advantedge over the Warriors. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 18-12
41 min: We are underway in the second half!
42 min: The Warriors muff a kick and it goes dead off the hands of Michael Crockett so the Cowboys get the ball back and can skip away to a twelve point lead.
49 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys The Cowboys have extended their lead with Ashley Graham picking up the loose ball to race away and score. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 24-12
60 min: FIELD GOAL North Queensland Cowboys Matt Bowen slots a field goal to put the Warriors out of commission. North Queensland Cowboys 25-12
63 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Bowen backs up his field goal with a good try and the Cowboys now have a preliminary final with Manly booked. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 31-12
69 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Cowboys stalwart Jason Smith goes over and the floodgates are open here at Dairy Farmers. The conversion is there again from the Dally M winner Johnathan Thurston. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 37-12
74 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Sensational stuff from the Cowboys as they break the 40-point barrier with a try to winger Ben Farrar. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 43-12
78 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Big Ray Cashmere scores to the applause of the 21,000-strong crowd here and favourite son Paul Bowman converts in his last few minutes as a player on Dairy Farmers Stadium. The Cowboys will fall short of 50 but certainly have put a scare into Manly as fulltime sounds. Conversion attempt by Paul Bowman successful. North Queensland Cowboys 49-12