Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Fulltime score: Round 26 North Queensland Cowboys 30 v Melbourne Storm 24
Match summary: The North Queensland Cowboys have boosted their top 4 chances with a 30-24 win at Dairy Farmers Stadium this evening.
The Cowboys were off to a flying start with tries to Matt Sing, Matt Bowen and Paul Bowman in the space of 10 minutes. Johnathon Thurston was on song with the boot, and the Cowboys shot out to an 18 point lead after as many minutes.
It looked as though the Storm were going to be in for a long night, but hit back with tries to centre Steven Bell and winger Greg Inglis in succession, and the deficit was reduced to 6 with 8 minutes remaining in the first half.
Thurston added another 2 points, after the Storm were penalised for holding down in the tackle. The Cowboys took a 20-12 lead into halftime.
The Storm could not have wished for a better start in the second half, with Dennis Scott charging through the Cowboys? defence off a tap from a touch kick. Cameron Smith converted the try and after just 2 minutes in the second half, the margin was reduced to 2.
A controversial decision in the 56th minute may have cost Melbourne the game. Matt Bowen grubbered the ball into the Melbourne in-goal area, and was ruled to have been obstructed from the ball by Storm fullback Billy Slater, after it appeared that Bowen had originally obstructed Slater from making a play at the ball. Bowen was awarded a penalty try and Thurston added the extras to give the Cowboys an all-important 8 point lead.
The Storm were determined to fight back, and Ryan Hoffman capitalised on some crafty play from Cooper Cronk to score. Orford converted the try and with 18 minutes remaining, the 2 competition points were well and truly up for grabs.
Ty Williams scored the matchwinning try 13 minutes from time, after another brilliant piece of work from Bowen, who was easily the stand-out player in tonight?s match. The Cowboys held on to win the match by 30 points to 24.
With tonight?s victory, the Cowboys remain in the hunt for a top 4 spot, depending on the outcome of tomorrow?s match between the Tigers and the Panthers. As for the Storm, they will finish in 6th position, and with the nature of this competition, they could push well into the finals series and maybe even challenge for the premiership, or, they could go out in week 1.
Cowboys v Storm match photos: Click here to see the photo gallery for this game
Scorers: NTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS 30 Tries: Bowen 2, Sing, Bowman, Williams Goals: Thurston 5/6 MELBOURNE STORM 24 Tries: Bell, Inglis, Scott, Hoffman Goals: Orford 2/2, Smith 2/2
Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium Crowd: 22,471 Referee: Tim Mander Half time: Cowboys 20-18
Live commentary: We are set for a cracker this evening with arguably the two most entertaining sides in the competition squaring off in Townsville. The Cowboys host the Storm at Dairy Farmers Stadium with both sides vying for a top 4 position.
Storm: The two players omitted from the 19 man squad named on Tuesday are Ian Donelly and Jake Webster.
0 min: Match underway in Townsville
5 min: No score as yet with a flamboyant opening from both sides. We look set for a very open game tonight.
7 min: TRY-Cowboys Great vision from Brett Firman, grubbering through for Matt Sing who plants the ball down in the corner. Conversion attempt is a beauty from Johnathon Thurston. Cowboys 6-0
15 min: TRY-Cowboys Matt Bowen crosses the line after running off Thurston, who threw a brilliant inside ball which led to the try. Thurston converts. Cowboys 12-0
18 min: TRY-Cowboys Paul Bowman takes advantage of an error from Billy Slater off a kick return, and scores under the posts. Thurston adds the extras. Cowboys 18-0
25 min: NEWS-Great start by The Cowboys who are dominating every aspect of the game at the moment. The Storm seem shell-shocked and cannot develop any continuity to their play, still 18-0 in favour of the men from the tropics.
28 min: TRY-Storm The Storm have finally come to play this evening, with a brilliant backline movement culminating in a try to centre Steven Bell under the posts. It was referred to the video referee for obstruction, but the officials were satisfied with the try. Matt Orford converts. Cowboys 18-6
32 min: TRY-Storm An excellent cross-field kick from Orford results in a try to winger Greg Inglis, who leaps well into the air and forces the ball. Conversion successful from Cameron Smith. Cowboys 18-12
40 min: PENALTY GOAL-Cowboys Thurston adds another 2 after the Storm were penalised for holding down in the tackle, right in front of the posts. Cowboys 20-12
HALF TIME: An enterprising start to this game in 40 minutes that could be described as a half of two halves. The Cowboys got off to an outstanding start to lead 18-0 after as many minutes, with the Storm hitting back with two tries later in the half, and with a penalty goal to Thurston on halftime, the Cowboys lead by 20 points to 12 at the break. Looks like we will be in for a thriller.
Second half underway at Dairy Farmers Stadium
41 min: TRY-Storm Great start for the Storm after halftime, with Dennis Scott running straight through a hole in the Cowboys defensive line off a tap from a penalty. Conversion is successful from Smith Cowboys 20-18
45 min: NEWS-Storm players Brett White and Dennis Scott are down after what looks like a nasty collision. Play has been stopped 5 minutes into the second half.
51 min: NEWS-Still a two pont lead for the Cowboys with the crowd now coming into the game, trying to lift their side.
55 min: NEWS-Pressure on the Storm line now with repeat sets of six for the Cowboys.
56 min: PENALTY TRY-Cowboys Incredible scenes in Townsville, with a penalty try awarded to Matt Bowen after it was ruled that Billy Slater took him out while trying to force the ball in goal for a try, off his own kick. Conversion successful from Thurston. Cowboys 26-18
62 min: TRY-Storm Ryan Hoffman forces the ball in-goal after a clever kick from Cooper Cronk. Conversion is successful from Orford. Cowboys 26-24
67 min: TRY-Cowboys The points keep on coming in Townsville, with Ty Williams managing to stay in the field of play and score off a grubber from that man Bowen. Thurston hooks the conversion attempt to the left of the uprights. Cowboys 30-24
73 min: NEWS-Time running out for Melbourne, with the Cowboys to feed a scrum 15 metres out from their own line. The Cowboys still hold onto a 6 point lead.
75 min: NO TRY-Great play by Johnathon Thurston, knocking the ball out of David Kidwell's grasp over the line, the video referee ruling that the ball was lost by Kidwell and it will be a scrum to the Cowboys.
79 min: NEWS-Great defence from the Cowboys, holding out a desperate Melbourne outfit repeatedly, and now look as though they have the game wrapped up.
FULL TIME: The Cowboys have managed to hold on for the win tonight, 30 points to 24. A remarkable comeback from the Storm after a poor start which saw them slide to an 18 point deficit after as many minutes. A very entertaining game with both sides showing that they will play a big part in the finals series and can beat any side on their day. ----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - M Bowen (Cowboys) 2 - J Thurston (Cowboys) 1 - R Kearns (Storm) -----------------------------------------