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A determined North Queensland Cowboys team has come up trumps at Dairy Farmers stadium tonight in front of 13,335 brave fans, as they recovered from a 14-2 deficit to defeat the Panthers 28 points to 20.
Finding themselves in a similar position to last week, the Cowboys were again facing a large deficit early in the game, as tries to Luke Walsh and Luke Lewis saw the Panthers race out to an early 12 point lead.
Going to halftime, the Panthers led 14 points to 2.
But the Cowboys turned it on in the second half - again inspired by some Johnathan Thurston magic.
Seemingly able to score from anywhere on the field, it was firstly Willie Tonga who reaped the rewards of a crisp Thurston pass, being put into a yawning gap in the defensive line, running 40m to score.
Thurston was involved in the next try also, and this time it was Michael Bani who made the Panther's defence look shaky out wide, standing up three would-be defenders to score just wide of the posts.
The Panthers had a chance to tie the game up in the 74th minute, but the attacking grubber was a touch too deep, and beat Michael Jennings to the dead ball line.
The Cowboys are building themselves a reputation for being able to stack on points in the second half, while the Panthers will be kicking themselves for letting the game slip away.
Match Details North Queensland Cowboys 28 defeated Penrith Panthers 20 National Rugby League - NRL - Round 2 - Saturday March 20, 2010 7:30pm Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium Referee: Ben Cummins and Chris James Video Referee: Phil Cooley Touch Judges: Luke Phillips and Grant Atkins Crowd: 13335 Halftime: North Queensland Cowboys 2 Penrith Panthers 14
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Johnathan Thurston (4 Conversions, 2 Penalty Goals)
2 Points - Scott Bolton (2 Tries)
1 Point - Willie Tonga (1 Try)
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (28)
Tries: Scott Bolton (2), Michael Bani, Willie Tonga
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (4/4)
Penalty Goals: Johnathan Thurston (2/2)
PENRITH PANTHERS (20)
Tries: Luke Lewis (2), Luke Walsh
Conversions: Michael Gordon (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Michael Gordon (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary 1 min: Welcome to a wet Dairy Farmers Stadium tonight, for this clash between the Cowboys and the Panthers.
Both teams look to be 1-17 as per program.
4 min: PENALTY GOAL
PENALTY GOAL Penrith Panthers
Penalty goal attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Penrith Panthers 2-0
9 min: TRY
TRY Penrith Panthers
Scored by Luke Lewis. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Penrith Panthers 8-0
16 min: A disappointing end to the set from the Panthers, as a grubber kick from Walsh is easily cleaned up by Bani.
19 min: PENALTY GOAL
PENALTY GOAL North Queensland Cowboys
Penalty goal attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Penrith Panthers 8-2
26 min: Willie Mason makes an entry onto the field - for the first time in Cowboys' colours. Mixed reaction from the crowd.
27 min: TRY
Halfback Luke Walsh scores after being set up by Jennings from close range, touching down next to the sticks.
Penrith Panthers 14-2
33 min: Referees looking at a possible try to the Cowboys, Steve Southern crashing over.
33 min: NO TRY - Cowboys denied. Replays show the ball being propelled forward from Southern into a defender's melon.
38 min: Panthers make a meal of it on their own 30m line, passing the ball to mid-air. An intercept from Cowboys player (did anyone get his number?) goes to ground but for mine he was checked by a desperate defender. Would have been a try, but Penrith are off the hook and get the scrum feed.
40 min: Half time. Completion rates satisfactory. The Panthers enjoying 55% possession and deserving leaders, but they haven't had it all their own way. The Cowboys in danger of copping a hammering but footy is a funny game. If they're good enough, the game is there for the taking.
40 min: Teams making their way onto the field. Townsville on high alert with Cyclone Ului edging closer to the coast of FNQ. Cowboys restart with a kick off and the second half is underway...
47 min: TRY
Forward Scott Bolton from dummy half, strolls over for the easiest tries from 5m out - hardly a hand on him as he dives over. Sells a simple dummy and an embarrassed marker defence buys it.
Penrith Panthers 14-8
52 min: Panthers with a relieving penalty following another Cowboys' raid. Cowboys showing plenty of attacking flair but unable to convert.
Panthers now with an opportunity. 53 min: Possible Penrith try, video ref looking....
54 min: TRY
Luke Lewis scores after a well placed grubber is fumbled. Some debate over who touched down but Lewis is awarded the try.
Penrith Panthers 20-8
59 min: TRY
Willie Tonga put into open space by Thurston, sprinting 40m to score 13m wide of the posts.
Penrith Panthers 20-14
62 min: NO TRY - Cowboys and Tonga denied. Forward pass and knock on ruled. Cowboys doing all the running, Panthers on the back foot.
63 min: TRY
Bolton is in again, backing up on the Cowboys left side. Thurston dummying inside to Mason and then passing to Bolton created the hole. We're all locked up with 15 minutes to go, Penrith not out of it yet.
70 min: TRY
Winger Michael Bani stands up three would-be defenders to score 12m wide of the posts. A 60m run and the Panthers look shot to bits. Again, down the Cowboys left side and Thurston involved.
North Queensland Cowboys 26-20
74 min: Panthers with a repeat set and almost pull off a try following a grubber. But the ball beats Jennings to the dead ball line.
75 min: PENALTY GOAL
Thurston kicks the winning goal, 10m in from touch and 36m out. Follows a two on one strip from the Panthers.
North Queensland Cowboys 28-20
79 min: Panthers lose possession 5m out from the Cowboys line.
80 min: All over red rover. The one that got away and a game that Penrith should have won. Classy comeback from the Cowboys surging back after being down by 20-8.
Full time. Cowboys win 28-20.
81 min: Post full time news. Panthers five-eighth Travis Burns chaired off with a leg injury.