Cowboys demolish struggling Warriors

The North Queensland Cowboys have put in a dominant display against the struggling and terminally inconsistent New Zealand Warriors, recording one of the biggest victories in the club's history to sound a warning to their finals rivals, and stay in touch with the all-important top 4, while ending last year's grand finalists' slim finals hopes.

The Dairy Farmer's Stadium crowd was treated to an exciting first half, as the faithful saw their favourites open up a 22-0 lead in as many minutes.

It took only three minutes for the home side to open the scoring, Matty Bowen and Brent Tate combining with a touch of magic to get the home side ahead first up. Bowen spotted space and grubbered ahead from 30m out from the Warriors' line, Tate winning the race for the ball ahead of Kevin Locke and Manu Vatuvei. He was able to spin and tap the ball back to Bowen, who ran in untouched. Johnathan Thurston converted, and it was 6-0 after as many minutes. It was a little longer wait for the crowd to see the second, but it came soon enough: Aaron Payne looking right to Michael Morgan, linking up with Brent Tate whose quick hands sent Ashley Graham over for his first try of the evening. Thurston converted to again ensure the Cowboys kept pace with the clock, up 12-0.

Blink and you would have missed the next 12 points, as a counter-attacking break from Bowen was finished when Thurston linked with Antonio Winterstein on the left, and when Morgan pushed away from flimsy Warriors defence a minute later Graham was down the right for his second. Thurston converted Graham's try, and the visitors were left shellshocked at the 22-0 scoreline after just 18 minutes. Half-breaks and difficult chances were the story of the remainder of the second half for the Cowboys, while the Warriors were given renewed hope in the shadows of half-time when Feleti Mateo combined with Carlos Tuimavave to put the youngster over for his first try in first grade. With a 16-point lead going into the break, Cowboys fans were mindful of the second half fade-outs that have at times plagued the team this season.

There was no sign of the home side taking their foot off the Warriors neck though, and when Thurston reached into his bag of tricks early in the second stanza the result was put beyond all doubt. First came a try for Kane Linnett, the centre the beneficiary of a superb Thurston face-ball as the defence marked up on the dual threats of a rampaging Gavin Cooper and the sweeping Bowen, Linnett with an easy route to the line as gaps opened in front of him. The aforementioned weren't getting off their duties lightly though, Bowen taking Thurston's pass three minutes later and linking with Cooper to put him in in much the same style. Thurston's boot was true as ever, striking both conversions to build the lead to 34-6 by less than 10 minutes into the half.

Long criticised for being a two-man team, Thurston's young halves partner in Michael Morgan got back into the action as the right side attack again showed that what the left could do, they could do better. A strong fend on the Warriors defence opened up a gap for Morgan, and his offload found a steaming Brent Tate, who wasn't going to let anyone challenge him as he found the line. As the young and young at heart tore the Warriors apart there was even time for a try for retiring club legend Aaron Payne, who characterstically fought his way to the line and avoided the much dreaded end of season nudie run in the process.

The Cowboys' most prolific try scorer for the season again displayed his finishing skills, Brent Tate 's quick hands sending Graham for the corner. The Cowboys' 9th try, and Graham's third for the night, kept the ground announcer busy: the Cowboys hit 50 points, and Graham surpassed Matt Sing on the club's all-time try scorers list, as well as overtaking Ben Barba on the season's tally.

The final 10 minutes was dominated by errors from both sides, the game descending into a sloppy affair with moments of excitement as the Warriors fought to secure some sort of consolation. As with the first half it came in the shadows of the siren, Manu Vatuvei crossing in the corner and James Maloney converting to reduce the final deficit to 40 - the Cowboys more than convincing victors by 52 points to 12.

The night was further soured for the visitors, with Kevin Locke leaving the field midway through the first half with an ankle injury. For the Cowboys an injury cloud hangs over Ray Thompson, who wasn't sighted after a short initial stint, while Johnathan Thurston looked to have shaken off a limp picked up in the first half.

Match Details
North Queensland Cowboys 52 defeated New Zealand Warriors 12
National Rugby League - Round 23 - Saturday August 11, 2012 7:30pm
Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium
Referee: Ashley Klein and Chris James
Video Referee: Phil Cooley
Touch Judges: Ricky MacFarlane and Michael Wise
Crowd: 13,616
Halftime: North Queensland Cowboys 22 New Zealand Warriors 6 players of the match:
3 Points - Johnathan Thurston (8 Conversions)
2 Points - Michael Morgan
1 Point - Brent Tate (1 Try)

Tries: Brent Tate, Matt Bowen, Aaron Payne, Ashley Graham (3), Antonio Winterstein, Gavin Cooper, Kane Linnett
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (8/9)

Tries: Manu Vatuvei, Carlos Tuimavave
Conversions: James Maloney (2/2) Live Commentary Welcome rugby league fans to live updating of this game between the North Queensland Cowboys and the New Zealand Warriors, played at Dairy Farmer's Stadium. The Cowboys are struggling to stay in touch with the top 4, and will be looking to move a step closer to a guaranteed second chance in the finals. Wildly inconsistent and languishing in 13th, the Warriors are playing mostly for pride, though a finals chance is not a mathematical impossibility.

In team news for this clash, Joel Reithmuller keeps his bench spot from last week, again replacing Ricky Thorby, while James Maloney's return has seen a reshuffle in the Warriors' side: Maloney starts at five-eighth, pushing Carlos Tuimavave to the bench, while family issues see Elijah Taylor out, his lock spot filled by Sebastine Ikahihifo. Russell Packer will start for Sione Lousi.
As always you can join the buzz on twitter - follow LeagueUnlimited on Twitter and tweet about the match using the Official Hashtag - #NRLnqlwar.

You can also discuss the match with thousands of other fans in our Game Day Forums - click here. 1 min: Johnathan Thurston kicks off and we are underway!
2 min: Penalty to North Queensland! Konrad Hurrell is penalised for tackling Antonio Winterstein in the air, and the Cowboys will have their first use of the footy 40m out from their own line.
3 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys!

Matty Bowen grubbered ahead from 30m out. Brent Tate beats Manu Vatuvei and Kevin Locke to the ball, and bats it back to the little magician to touch down! Johnathan Thurston's conversion just sneaks between the uprights.
North Queensland Cowboys 6-0
6 min: Free flowing football from the Cowboys on the last tackle sees Gavin Cooper offload straight to a black jersey.
7 min: Bowen and Tate combine on the kick-return to make some good metres.
8 min: Knock on New Zealand! Matt Bowen again grubbered ahead, and this time Manu Vatuvei made a mess of a difficult catch. Cowboys will attack from 10m out from the line.
9 min: Aaron Payne is held up centimetres from the line. On the next play Matty Bowen puts boot to ball for his outside men, and Antonio Winterstein is claiming a try. Video ref decision.
10 min: Kane Linnett missed the football under heavy attention from a defender, and Antonio Winterstein can't gather it up as he flies through. The Warriors survive and will restart play with a 20m tap.
10 min: Lewis Brown was headed for the sideline, and his desperate offload finds a Cowboys jersey.
11 min: Penalty to North Queensland! Shaun Johnson's tackle crept high on Mat Scott, and the home side will attack from 30m out from the Warriors' line.
12 min: TRY Northern Storm
TRY North Queensland Cowboys!

Aaron Payne goes right to Michael Morgan at first receiver. Quick hands from him and Brent Tate find Ashley Graham with an overlap on the wing. Johnathan Thurston's conversion is perfect.
North Queensland Cowboys 12-0
16 min: Manu Vatuvei picked out the cross-field kick on the wing, and offloaded for Lewis Brown. The loose pass is intercepted by Matty Bowen, who takes off downfield!
17 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys!

The play was started with a break by Matt Bowen down the right edge, and was finished by some great work by Johnathan Thurston on the left. Antonio Winterstein streaks away to score, and it seems the Cowboys' only rivals tonight are the clock. Thurston's conversion is waved away.
North Queensland Cowboys 16-0
18 min: TRY Northern Storm
TRY North Queensland Cowboys!

Even the clock isn't rivalling the Cowboys as they run in their fourth. Michael Morgan splits some lazy defence on the right, draws the fullback and puts Ashley Graham away for his second. Johnathan Thurston's conversion is good.
North Queensland Cowboys 22-0
20 min: During that period of action, Kevin Locke left the field injured. Carlos Tuimavave is deputising at fullback.
26 min: Lewis Brown passes it forwards to Manu Vatuvei.
27 min: Knock on North Queensland! Aaron Payne stripped Manu Vatuvei on the kick-return, but couldn't control the ball. The visitors will take possession 30m out from their own line.
28 min: Penalty to New Zealand! Dallas Johnson is penalised for a play the ball infringement, and the Warriors build their first pressure, attacking from 15m out.
28 min: b>Knock on New Zealand! Feleti Mateo looking for an offload but can't make it stick, the Cowboys survive.
29 min: Gavin Cooper busts the New Zealand defence.
30 min: Penalty to North Queensland! The Warriors are penalised for slowing down the ruck after the break. North Queensland will attack from 15m out.
32 min: A grubber behind the line from Nathan Friend turns Ashley Graham around, and he's caught in-goal by the chase.
33 min: Knock on New Zealand! The sight of Konrad Hurrell with room to move scares the best of defenders, but Johnathan Thurston put his body on the line and forced a knock on. Cowboys ruck it out from 10m out from their own line.
35 min: Not good scenes for Cowboys fans, as Johnathan Thurston tries to walk out a leg injury.
37 min: Penalty to New Zealand! The ball comes free off Carlos Tuimavave's kick return, but Gavin Cooper is ruled to have stripped the ball.
37 min: Penalty to New Zealand! Ashton Sims is ruled to have been too slow in the play the ball. The Warriors build pressure, attacking 10m out from the line.
39 min: TRY
TRY New Zealand Warriors!

Successive penalties allowed the Warriors to build pressure, and a long ball to Feleti Mateo switched back into Carlos Tuimavave sees the youngster score his first try in first grade. James Maloney's conversion attempt is successful.
North Queensland Cowboys 22-6
40 min: Matty Bowen kicks out on the full with one last roll of the dice, and the Cowboys go into the break with a 22-6 lead.
Earlier tonight it was the Cowboys drawing first blood, their U20s team scoring an upset against the reigning premiers, an 80th minute Zac Santo try securing victory for the home side.
41 min: We're back underway, with both sides again showing they're not afraid to use the width of the field.
45 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys!

Johnathan Thurston and his troop of merry men again torment the Warriors. Matty Bowen ran the sweeping line, Gavin Cooper ran the crash ball line, and Kane Linnett ran for the try line. Thurston's conversion again sneaks between the posts.
North Queensland Cowboys 28-6
47 min: Aaron Payne's scoot found Michael Morgan, who went straight through the line. Brought down 30m out.
48 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys!

This time Thurston found Bowen on the sweep play, and he in turn found Gavin Cooper who split the stretched Warriors defence to score. The second half has started much as the first did for the Cowboys. Thurston makes no mistake with the conversion.
North Queensland Cowboys 34-6
50 min: The Warriors make some good ground and are attacking the Cowboys' line.
51 min: Knock on New Zealand! Carlos Tuimavave juggled the cross-field kick, nearly reeling it in for their second but it wasn't to be. Fantastic scramble defence from the Cowboys sees them hold on.
52 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys!

Michael Morgan used his footwork to poke half a gap in the Warriors line, finding Brent Tate with the offload who runs 30m to get in on the scoring action. The biggest battle here tonight is the Cowboys' right side vs. their left as the points flow freely. Thurston's conversion attempt is once again successful.
North Queensland Cowboys 40-6
56 min: James Maloney beat Thurston down the right, but his offload found nought but Antonio Winterstein in cover. Winterstein links up with Thurston, who in turn looks to Tate to counter-attack.
57 min: Forward Pass North Queensland! Matty Bowen tries to hit Winterstein on the left edge, but the ball is judged forward as it dribbles into touch.
59 min: New Zealand attack the Cowboys line, but again and again they are repelled. Gavin Cooper defuses the short kick.
60 min: Knock on North Queensland! Antonio Winterstein tracks Johnathan Thurston's spiralling bomb, but can't quite pull it in.
61 min: Knock on New Zealand! Lewis Brown responds in kind, losing the ball in the tackle. The home side will look to build their lead even further from 40m out.
62 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys!

All of the old guard are getting in on the act for the Cowboys, as the retiring Aaron Payne darts from dummy half to touch down for his first try of the season. Johnathan Thurston boots his 7th goal.
North Queensland Cowboys 46-6
65 min: Knock on New Zealand! Carlos Tuimavave gets on the outside of his man and looks to link up with his outside men, but the ball is struck from his grasp in a tackle from behind.
66 min: Penalty to North Queensland! The Warriors follow up an error by conceding a penalty, too slow to get off the tackled player and the Cowboys will return to the attack.
68 min: Penalty to North Queensland! Russell Packer has taken out Matty Bowen off the ball, and the Cowboys will receive the penalty from 25m out.
68 min: Matty Bowen is held up over the line after dancing between the wall of Warriors defence. Ben Henry has injured his arm in the process.
69 min: TRY Northern Storm
TRY North Queensland Cowboys!

Another quick hands effort from Brent Tate sends Ashley Graham over for his hat-trick, bringing up a few milestones: the Cowboys hit 50 tonight, Graham moves into third on the Cowboys' all-time try scorers list, and also overtakes Ben Barba as the leading try-scorer for the season. Thurston's conversion is again good, from the sideline.
North Queensland Cowboys 52-6
72 min: Penalty to New Zealand! New Zealand receive a relieving penalty, and will attack from halfway.
73 min: Forward Pass New Zealand! James Maloney looked to have found a hole in the Cowboy's defence, but is called back for a forward pass.
75 min: Knock on New Zealand! Feleti Mateo poked his nose through the line and found Tuimavave with the offload, but he puts it down and the Cowboys will go back on the attack around halfway.
76 min: Knock on North Queensland! The Cowboys respond in kind with errors of their own.
78 min: The intensity has well and truly left the game. Tate kicks for himself but only succeeds in putting the ball dead as the game winds down.
78 min: Penalty to North Queensland! Maybe the earlier call was a little premature, as Sebastine Ikahihifo tries to impose himself on Matty Bowen in a tackle.
80 min: TRY
TRY New Zealand Warriors!

The Warriors take advantage of some lazy Cowboys defence, a spread to the left well finished by Manu Vatuvei to chalk up his 100th career try. Maloney's conversion ends the game on a good note for the visitors.
North Queensland Cowboys 52-12

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