Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
29 hours ago
North Queensland Cowboys 22 v Penrith Panthers 6
at Dairy Farmers Stadium
Referees: Ben Cummins
In wet and windy conditions in Townsville, the Cowboys have broken a two game losing streak with a 22-6 win against the Penrith Panthers. The home side led 10-0 at halftime in miserable conditions but went on with the show in the second half to post a solid victory.
The Cowboys got off to a great start when fullback Matt Bowen showed the selectors what they missed out on last night by putting a cross field bomb in for cousin Brenton who lept above the pack to score first points.
Things got worse for the mountain men when inspirational hooker Luke Priddis went off the field with a suspected corked thigh. He did not return for the rest of the match and the Panthers attack didn?t have any direction without the veteran hooker and former captain Craig Gower who was a late exclusion.
Matty Bowen then proved what an attacking threat he is as he kicked a 40/20 late in the second half. On the back of this, the Cowboys scored their second try through Australian bench player Johnathon Thurston who sliced through some poor defence from Frank Puletua to score under the posts.
If things couldn?t get any worse for Penrith, just after the half-time interval, after a line break from Brenton Bowen, centre Nick Youngquest came in late as a flop over the tackle and as a result of the professional foul, Youngquest was sinbinned.
However, the Cowboys switched off after this incident thinking the points would come falling off trees. They had no direction in attack and no points were scored while Youngquest was in the bin.
Things looked to be all wrapped up when Cowboys hooker Aaron Payne dived over from dummy-half to give the home side a 16-0 lead with only sixteen minutes remaining.
There was a small chance of a comeback for the Panthers as they crossed the line for the first time as Rodney hit a whole off a Lewis inside ball to score only moments after knocking the ball on while trying to ground it.
Young Cowboy prop Shane Tronc capped off a solid night in Townsville as he barged over close to the line right on fulltime for a 22-6 victory in miserable conditions.
North Queensland Cowboys: 22
Tries: Brenton Bowen, Aaron Payne, Johnathan Thurston, Shane Tronc
Goals: Johnathan Thurston 3/4
Penrith Panthers: 6
Tries: Shane Rodney
Goals: Preston Campbell 1/1
By the Clock:
Pooring rain here in Townsville for this one.Both teams looking to bounce back from consecutive defeats.Cowboy Luke O'Donnell will not be backing up from the test match with Gavin Cooper coming in to the second row.For the Panthers,Craig Gower is out with Lewis to five-eight,Campbell to halfback and Youngquest in to the centres.
The rain has halted as the teams run on to the park.
1 min: NEWS Ben Cummins the debuant referee blows time on!
5 min: NEWS A two on one for the Panthers on the right hand side.The pass is thrown but Brenton Bowen takes an intercept to save a try.
7 min: NEWS Going to the video for a possible Cowboys try ...
8 min: NEWS NO TRY - Paul Bowman is ruled to have hit the corner post when trying to ground the football.
13 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys
A family affair as Matty Bowen puts a great crossfield bomb in for cousin Brenton Bowen who leaps above little Preston Campbell to score in the corner.
Thurston from the sideline hooks the kick.
16 min: NEWS The kickoff goes dead ingoal.A goal line dropout coming up here with good field position for the Panthers.
17 min: NEWS Luke Priddis might have a corked thigh after being taken out while putting a kick through.
25 min: NEWS Thurston misses a 40/20 by only one metre.
27 min: NEWS Matty Bowen saves a certain Preston Campbell 40/20 by desperately knocking back the ball as it was heading over the sideline.
31 min: NEWS A turning point?Matty Bowen kicks a huge 40/20 late in the first half.
34 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Ashley Graham makes a great break from a scrum on half.Later in the set,Thurston runs the ball,bumps off a defender and scores under the posts.
He converts his own try.
37 min: NEWS A chance for the Panthers before the break,as Matty Bowen drops a pass 20 metres out from his own line.
40 min: NEWS Halftime - In pooring rain,both sides are being to adventurous with the ball.They need to settle things down in the wet.The Panthers are lacking any structure in attack with no Gower and Priddis off the field.
41 min: NEWS Second Half underway
47 min: NEWS Ben Cummins makes a stand in his first NRL game as a referee.He has sin binned Nick Youngquest for a professional foul.
57 min: NEWS The Cowboys have switched off as Youngquest has been in the bin.Youngquest has re-joined the contest.
64 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys
From dummy-half,Aaron Payne dives over to seal the game here for the Cowboys.This comes on the back of a great line break from Brenton Bowen.
68 min: NEWS Penrith second rower Shane Rodney dives for the line but has the ball knocked out of his hands in a one on one steal.
71 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Luke Lewis turns the ball back on the inside to Shane Rodney who this time plants the ball down correctly to score the Panthers first of the night.
Campbell converts from out wide.
73 min: NEWS A chance here for the Panthers as the kickoff goes out on the full from Thurston.
74 min: NEWS Game looks to be all wrapped up now as Rodney drops the ball when trying to penetrate the defence five metres out.
78 min: NEWS Video ref for a possible Cowboys try.
79 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Tronc barges over from close to the line to cap off a good night for the home side.
80 min: NEWS Fulltime!
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Matthew Bowen
2 - Brenton Bowen
1 - Shane Rodney