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North Queensland Cowboys have won against a desperate Dragons side, 32-22, in front of 9,245 rugby league fans at WIN Stadium after some brilliant play from captain Johnathan Thurston.
After some questionable calls from referee Ashley Klein, the Cowboys posted the first points on the board. With Matthew Bowen almost splitting the defensive line apart, the North Queenslanders worked it out wide with some simple run around plays as Ashley Graham notched the first four pointer. Johnathan Thurston made sure they took the 6 point advantage in the seventh minute.
The 14th minute saw some Queensland super stardom combine to send former Dragon Kane Linnett crashing over the line. Johnathan Thurston drew in two attackers, using an inside decoy runner, before passing out the back to Matt Bowen who passed it off to Linnett who used his strength to score.
After a weight of football, the Dragons got themselves back within 6 when Ben Creagh burrowed his way over the line. Soward converted but it was not all happy days for the Red V. Off the kick off, Creagh dropped the ball effecting a scrum for the Cowboys, who used fullback Matt Bowen to drift right across field, before giving a great ball to Kane Linnett on the inside, changing direction at pace. He beat everyone to the line before Thurston took their lead back to 12 after 30 minutes at 18-6.
And as if the game was being played at Wimbledon, the Dragons got right back into the match with an outstanding try 3 minutes later. Mitchell Rein came from dummy half getting in the Cowboys' line, before passing to Jack De Belin, who then offloaded in traffic on his way to the ground back to Rein who scored under the posts.
The Dragons were not done though, with Daniel Vidot finishing off some great work. Two good passes wide of the ruck, had Soward cutting the ball out to the waiting winger who easily strolled over untouched. Jamie Soward could not get the Dragons onto level terms as the Cowboys lead 18-16 at half-time.
St. Geogre Illawara got in front for the first time in the 44th minute after Dan Hunt hit a lazy defensive gap. Hunt's try was sent to the video referee but the replays showed he had not knocked on. Soward extended their lead to 22-18.
In the 53rd minute, a wild brawl was sparked by a facial from a Cowboys defender before Vidot ran in throwing punches. Ricky Thorby then ran in and pulled him out of the way but the referees felt the need for both players to be put in the sin bin. Thorby was binned for running in, while Vidot was binned for throwing punches when he was no where near the play.
Johnathan Thurston scored his first try under seemingly conversational circumstances in the 60th minute. The captain of the North Queensland Cowboys managed to skip through Dragons defenders quite easily, before he seemed to have run behind one of his men denying the defence a chance. The video referee deemed it was a try and the Cowboys led by two.
In the very next set, Matthew Bowen crashed over finishing off some great play from his captain once again. Thurston put Tate through a yawning gap out wide, before he offloaded back inside to Thurston who stumbled, before passing to Bowen who dived to score. Thurston converted and the Cowboys took a commanding lead once again.
Johnathan Thurston was put in the sin bin in the 79th minute after a professional foul, but it was no matter to anyone, as the Cowboys won the game.
The Dragons will now have to regroup and play the Warriors at Win Stadium next Saturday, in what surely will be a dead rubber match, whilst the Cowboys will continue their finals preparations with an intriguing match against the Knights at Dairy Farmers Stadium next Saturday.
St George Illawarra Dragons 22 were defeated by North Queensland Cowboys 32
National Rugby League - Round 24 - Monday August 20, 2012 7:00pm
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Referee: Ashley Klein and Adam Devcich
Video Referee: Phil Cooley
Touch Judges: Jeff Younis and Adam Gee
Halftime: St George Illawarra Dragons 16 North Queensland Cowboys 18
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Johnathan Thurston (1 Try, 5 Conversions, 1 Penalty Goal)
2 Points - Matt Bowen (1 Try)
1 Point - Jamie Soward (3 Conversions)
St George Illawarra Dragons (22)
Tries: Ben Creagh, Dan Hunt, Daniel Vidot, Mitchell Rein
Conversions: Jamie Soward (3/4)
North Queensland Cowboys (32)
Tries: Matt Bowen, Johnathan Thurston, Ashley Graham, Kane Linnett (2)
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (5/5)
Penalty Goals: Johnathan Thurston (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to this key match up for the Cowboys as they push toward the finals and for the Dragons to simply save face! Changes: Dragons - Dean Young OUT, Will Matthews to LOCK, Leeson Ah Mau onto the bench
Changes: Cowboys - Thompson OUT, Thorby IN.
1 min: The Cowboys kick down to the Dragons and Merrin has the first run!
1 min: Simple opening sets from both squads. Dragons working it up field
2 min: The Dragons try and run the ball on the last but the Cowboys snuff it out and will play the ball on the 30 metre line.
3 min: After an attacking kick from the Cowboys, the Soward plays out the ball and it goes into touch. Cowboys scrum, 10 metres from try line.
5 min: Cowboys lose the ball backwards through Scott, and the Dragons tried to begin their attack before losing it. Scrum Cowboys 10 out.
7 min: TRY Northern Storm
After some tough calls against the Dragons, the Cowboys use some brilliant run around plays to put Ashley Graham over for the first try of the evening. Thurston converts and they lead 6-0.
North Queensland Cowboys 6-0
12 min: Good metres here from the Cowboys
13 min: Thurston puts a well weighted kick into the in goal and Nightingale knocks it out. Drop out Dragons.
16 min: TRY
Thurston takes the ball to the line, dummies to the decoy runner, gives it out the back to Matt Bowen who passes to Kane Linnett who scores. JT converts again.
North Queensland Cowboys 12-0
16 min: The Dragons earn a scrum after putting the ball into touch off kick off 15 metres out.
18 min: Daniel Vidot is put into touch and the Cowboys will have the scrum 20 out from their line.
19 min: Some great attacking play from the Cowboys has the Dragons pinned in their own half.
20 min: Soward makes a great line break on the fourth to get the Dragons within 20 metres but they are pulled down on the 5th. Cowboys working it away.
22 min: INFRINGEMENT: Penalty Dragons. StGI 1-0 Cowboys.
23 min: INFRINGMENT: Penalty Dragons. Stripping the ball. StGI 2-0 Cowboys. Attacking inside the 10.
24 min: An early grubber from the Dragons pays off because Morgan drops the ball. Scrum Dragons, 10 out from try line.
27 min: TRY
Ben Creagh, after a mountain of ball, simply burrows over the line to score. Soward converts.
North Queensland Cowboys 12-6
27 min: And after all that good work by the Dragons, Creagh drops it and the Cowboys will have a scrum 30 out from the line.
30 min: TRY
Bowen drifts across field off the scrum and Kane Linnett comes crashing through to bust the line and sprint away to the line. JT converts and the gap extends to 12 again.
North Queensland Cowboys 18-6
33 min: TRY
Mitchell Rein came from Hooker to give a great ball in the line to Jack DeBelin who then offloaded back to Rein who crossed to score under the posts. Soward converts.
North Queensland Cowboys 18-12
34 min: Cowboys working it from their own half, being put under pressure.
35 min: Vidot screams back and Morgan gets in the way and almost knocked out.
35 min: Bowen is taken in goal and the Cowboys will drop it out.
39 min: TRY
Vidot scores in the corner after a cut out pass from Soward. Soward misses and the Cowboys hold onto the lead.
North Queensland Cowboys 18-16
40 min: Soward puts it into touch and the Cowboys lead by just two at the break. What a game.
40 min: Dragons kick the ball down to the Cowboys and the second half is under way.
44 min: Video ref for the Dragons
46 min: TRY
Hunt crashes through a lazy gap to score under the posts. Soward converts.
St George Illawarra Dragons 22-18
48 min: Dragons attacking hard and Cowboys becoming desperate.
49 min: A big grubber from the Cowboys goes dead, Rein turns around and quick taps the ball and runs to the 40
53 min: There seems to be a fight here.
53 min: Vidot is binned for running in throwing punches.
53 min: Thorby is binned for running into the melee.
54 min: 12 on 12, and Dragons are in the box seat.
55 min: The intensity has picked up. Both sides hitting hard.
58 min: Thurston settling down the Cowboys, kicking into touch with the Dragons to come away from their own 20 metre line.
60 min: Video ref: possible obstruction for a Thurston try.
62 min: TRY
Thurston has skipped past the Dragons defence to draw level. Thurston then puts them in front by two.
North Queensland Cowboys 24-22
64 min: TRY
Bowen scores off some great JT and Brent Tate play.
North Queensland Cowboys 30-22
65 min: A great kick from the Cowboys has Vidot confused putting his foot out picking the ball up, instantly forcing a Dragons drop out.
66 min: A simple mistake will give the Dragons a scrum 10 metres from their line.
70 min: Dragons will be dropping it out once again.
71 min: Dragons will have a 20 metre tap after the ball rolls dead
72 min: Cowboys have the ball inside the Dragons half mounting pressure
73 min: PENALTY GOAL
Thurston extends their lead from right in front
North Queensland Cowboys 32-22
75 min: Cowboys hold strong under pressure out wide from the Dragons putting them into touch.
78 min: The game is escaping the Dragons
78 min: Thurston has been binned for a professional foul
80 min: And that is full time. The Cowboys win