Cowboys of old come to town

The North Queensland Cowboys are looking certain to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon after a 22-6 win over the Canberra Raiders at Dairy Farmers Stadium tonight, in front of a crowd of 14,998.

The Cowboys finally gave their fans something to cheer about in front of a moderate crowd, as 'the Cowboys of old' found their creative niche, outscoring and outclassing an injury-ravaged Canberra Raiders outfit. The Cowboys' fans haven't had much luck this season, but they were given some hope and an insight into what the Cowboys may have planned for the new season. Concerns surrounding Johnathan Thurston's knee were all but silenced with the star play maker scoring a try and having a hand in several others.

The loss and injuries come at a bad time for the Canberra Raiders, who were looking to gain some form before the 2009 final series. Terry Campese appeared to struggle all match with some form of injury, while Marshall Chalk also appears to have re injured his hand which kept him in doubt to play in this match tonight.

The Cowboys started the match brilliantly with some enthusiastic and expansive play. Thurston was the first to cross the try line thanks to Aaron Payne, and it wasn't too long before some further Payne brilliance helped Travis Burns cross for the Cowboys second try. With the scores 16-0 at half time, the Raiders still had a chance in the second half, but were let down by poor ball security and lack of discipline. With a weakened halves combination, the Raiders offered nothing in attack and will have many issues to rectify if they are going to be any kind of a threat in the 2008 finals series.

Ray Cashmere and Carl Webb were outstanding for the Cowboys in the forwards, with both of the big men gaining plenty of metres and doing everything they could to get their side a win in their final match in front of their home crowd. Aaron Payne was outstanding at hooker and had a hand in several tries.

While the Cowboys won't feature in the 2008 Final series, fans will wonder where this form has been all season. They will take consolation in the fact that they already seem to be preparing for a bigger, and certainly better 2009 season.

Even though injuries are starting to affect them, the Raiders will need to turn things around fast if they are going to be any threat this year, and not just a side filling up numbers in the Top 8.

Match Details North Queensland Cowboys 22 def Canberra Raiders 10 Round 25 - Saturday August 30th, 2008 7:30pm Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium Referee: Matt Cecchin Touch Judges: Mohamad Fajajo, Phil Haines Video Referee: Phil Cooley Half Time: Cowboys 16-0 Crowd: 14,998

North Queensland Cowboys 22 Tries: Johnathan Thurston, Travis Burns, Ben Harris, Carl Webb Goals: John Williams (3/4) Canberra Raiders 10 Tries: Adrian Purtell, Brett Kelly Goals: Joel Monaghan (1/2) Player of the Match 3 Points: Aaron Payne (Cowboys) 2 Points: Ray Cashmere (Cowboys) 1 Point: Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys) Live Commentary

Greetings and salutations league followers! Welcome to this clash between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Canberra Raiders. Ashley here again tonight, and I am updating LIVE from Dairy Farmers Stadium. On my left, the expert commentary of a strange fat man who I just saw eat 4 pies within a minute, and a fat lady on my right who keeps looking at what I'm typing and my instant messaging conversations... yes strange fat lady, I'm talking about you.

No word yet on any team changes, but rest assured anything relevant that comes to hand I'll keep everyone posted with. Despite the fact the Cowboys are placed last, I'm expecting a big game from then and certainly don't think this match will be a snooze-fest by any means.

The Raiders will of course be looking to continue their strong form and surge into the finals series this year. They've surprised a lot of people with their recent form. One man who has been a blessing of late as been Terry Campese, a man on a mission to get the Raiders into the finals and maybe even a premiership.

Nevertheless, sit back and I hope you enjoy the update tonight. Should be a cracker of a game! Please don't forget to visit our forums and check out some of the match discussions available in the NRL forum.

Some extra news here; Roy Asotasi has been ruled out of the world cup this year due to a torn pectoral muscle. A big blow for the world cup and the Kiwis.

Word is Thurston's knee has been swollen all week, and has not trained all week with the side. Really hope he is okay and we don't see him miss the world cup.

Nick Slyney comes into the line up tonight for the Cowboys. Dayne Weston in the run on side.

0 min: Teams running out onto the field now. And we're off!!

2 min: Cowboys lose the ball on their first set. Raiders in good position to get first points.

2 min: PENALTY - Canberra Raiders- Cowboys a bit sloppy in the ruck there, the Raiders 20m out from the Cowboys line.

3 min: Plum get overs the line but appears to be held up. The Raiders are working hard here for the first points and putting the Cowboys under pressure very early.

4 min: PENALTY- North Queensland Cowboys- Raiders penalised for grabbing at the ball as the player attempted to play it. Cowboys get out of the danger zone and need a good set here.

5 min: The Cowboys will get another set close to the try line here. Scrum feed to the Cowboys 10m out.

6 min: PENALTY - North Queensland Cowboys- Referee called that Harris was held before he was dragged into touch. Another set here for the Cowboys. Thurston looking good here. If his knee hurts, he isn't letting it bother him.

7 min: Drop out for the Raiders. ANOTHER set to the Cowboys. A good set by the Cowboys but great defense by the Raiders. Surely the Cowboys can find the try line here. An exciting start to the match.

8 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Aaron Payne caught the defense napping and splits straight through them. He finds Thurston who was in support and crosses over here for a well deserved first try. Great stuff here by the Cowboys and despite a few good sets in defense by the Raiders, they are unfortunately let one through. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful. North Queensland Cowboys 6-0

12 min: Some good football here by the Cowboys, looking very promising. The Raiders are struggling to do anything here with the ball.

13 min: Travis Burns loses the ball and the Raiders get a chance here. Looks like there was a bit of space for Burns if he held on to it. The Raiders need to do something here.

14 min: PENALTY - Canberra Raiders Player bundled into touch after being called held, but its all trivial now with the Raiders throwing a forward pass and giving possession back to the Cowboys.

18 min: Cowboys to get a repeat set from a drop out. They came within inches of scoring there.

20 min: Thurston kicks a bit too big and it goes out on the full. The Cowboys let the Raiders off who can't do anything in attack here. Most of this match has been played in the Raider's 20

21 min: The Raiders make a mini-break, but ruin it as Campese drops a simple pass, returning possession to the Cowboys. They are looking very casual in this match and aren't showing any intensity.

22 min: Forward pass by the Cowboys. After another great little piece of play inspired by Aaron Payne, the Cowboys were just a little too expansive there. If the pass was legal, they would have crossed again. Fantastic stuff by the Cowboys so far and they are certainly looking to be the better side so far tonight.

23 min: PENALTY - North Queensland Cowboys- Canberra player ruled offside after a kick on the 5th tackle. Cowboys get a piggy back up the field for another opportunity.

26 min: Completions: Cowboys- 11/16 (69%) Raiders- 7/12 (58%)

28 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Aaron Payne yet again creates some space. He offloads to Travis Burns who gets it away to Faumuina, who gets it to Graham, and gets it back to Travis Burns who crosses over for the Cowboys second try of the night. The Raiders looking very flat, but the Cowboys are playing the best they have in many many weeks. I really wish they wouldn't score points when I'm trying to make hot chocolate. Give me a break here boys. Conversion attempt by John Williams unsuccessful. North Queensland Cowboys 10-0

30 min: Great set by the Cowboys, putting a lot of pressure on the Raiders here. They are playing with a lot of intensity here. They will get the ball back here off another drop out.

31 min: PENALTY - Canberra Raiders Silly penalty by Burns, who just lays all over a player in the tackle for too long. The Raiders need to hit back here before half time.

31 min: PENALTY - North Queensland Cowboys The Raiders lost the ball straight away, and the Raiders' players have blown up about it to the referee, who promptly penalises them for back chat. Poor stuff here by the Raiders.

33 min: Possible try here to Ben Harris. We're checking it with the video referee. Nothing wrong with that in my opinion...

33 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Cowboys! Ben Harris scores in the corner for the North Queensland Cowboys and they have extended the lead here. Canberra are in trouble here... Conversion attempt by John Williams successful. North Queensland Cowboys 16-0

36 min: The Raiders have missed a scoring opportunity here... if they didn't knock that ball on, they would have certainly had the momentum to score.

38 min: Big Ray Cashmere has just used everything in his fuel tank there. He put a little kick in to the Raiders full back, and then slammed him back in for a goal line drop out... and then he even jogged back after it! Fantastic stuff here from the Cowboys and the Raiders need to prevent any more damage occurring before the half time break.

38 min: Possible Ben Harris try, but that looked like it was an obstruction... We're going to check it, but it appears the Cowboys aren't too excited either here. Should be a no try...

39 min: NO TRY Video referee rules it was an obstruction and the Raiders get out of gaol.

39 min: The Raiders have a good set, and lose the ball before the last play option. The Cowboys will get one more shot before the end of the half here. Fans should be checking out for match discussion on this game. Some interesting comments about the referee. Join in on the discussion on what you think.

39 min: Cowboys lose the ball now, the Raiders have one chance here to reduce the deficit.

HALF TIME North Queensland Cowboys - 16 Canberra Raiders - 0

Some stats...

Possession: Cowboys- 53% Raiders- 47%

Tackles: Cowboys- 99 Raiders- 166

Errors: Cowboys- 8 Raiders- 11

Penalties: Cowboys- 4 Raiders- 4

Number of times strange man beside me has fallen asleep - 9

SECOND HALF 40 min: We're underway again.

44 min: Raiders lose the ball in a bad position. Cowboys have a chance here to post some more points.

45 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Big Carl Webb charges over the line. The Raiders didn't look they had a chance of stopping a rampaging Webb, and the Cowboys extend their lead further. I don't think we'll see the Raiders come back from here. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful. North Queensland Cowboys 22-0

47 min: Carl Webb knocks on after scoring his try. The Raiders will get a set 20m out from the Cowboys line

47 min: ... and the Raiders knock on on the second tackle. They can't even hold on to the ball, let alone build any real pressure.

49 min: Milne has stopped a 40/20 here by stopping the ball from going over the sideline, jumping in the air and knocking the ball into the field of play. However, he has knocked it out over the dead ball line and now the Raiders will have a drop out.

51 min: Cowboys have lost the ball after getting it from the drop out. Scrum feed to the Raiders. Ray Cashmere limping and appears to have an ankle or knee injury.

53 min: The Cowboys almost find some space, but unfortunately drop the ball. The Raiders get a much needed scrum feed. They aren't doing anything here and Campese looks as if he should be sitting in a wheelchair; he has not looked well all night

55 min: PENALTY - North Queensland Cowboys Hinchcliffe penalised for a high tackle. Blatant high tackle- so why did the Raiders whinge about it? Cecchin marches the Raiders for their backchat.

56 min: Bit of a fight here right in front of the TV camera. Purtell takes exception to being taken over the dead ball line, and gets up swinging... Nothing in it. Dropout by the Raiders.

58 min: Travis Burns loses the ball in a good position. The Cowboys are still building some good pressure but starting to get a bit scrappy. Although you can forgive them when they're 22 points in front of the opposition.

61 min: Possible Raiders try. Checking to see if Purtell is onside. If it is a try, ridiculous miss of a forward pass by the referee in the play previous. Even the Raiders players thought it was forward...

61 min: TRY Canberra Raiders After a forward pass missed, the Raiders cross over for their first through Adrian Purtell. Finally some life in the Raiders. Conversion attempt by Joel Monaghan successful. North Queensland Cowboys 22-6

CROWD: 14998... although the guy next to me has to be worth at least 3 people.

67 min: 7th Line drop out here for the Raiders. Thurston has shown some good form tonight especially with his kicking game.

67 min: PENALTY - North Queensland Cowboys Raiders penalised for being slow in the ruck and having a hand on the ball. Cowboys looking for some more points.

Just a quick note from our other match tonight... Big Wendell Sailor has scored a hat-trick. Good on him.

72 min: Cowboys to drop the ball out, their first of the night versus the Raiders 7.

73 min: Match starting to really slow down now. This will be a good win for the Cowboys, and their fans who haven't had a happy season in any respects.

73 min: TRY Canberra Raiders An easy try for the Raiders after England-bound Sione falls over, creating an overlap. The Raiders get themselves a consolation try. Conversion attempt by Joel Monaghan unsuccessful. North Queensland Cowboys 22-10

77 min: Canberra looking very tired here. They have lost the ball yet again, and are looking as if they will be no real threat in the finals if they can't turn this around.

80 min: Thurston takes a shot at a field goal and misses. Looks like that will be the end of the match.

FULL TIME North Queensland Cowboys - 22 Canberra Raiders - 10