Cowboys qualify for the finals for
the first time

The North Queensland Cowboys have qualified for the semi finals for the first time in their ten year history with a 24-12 victory over the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium this afternoon.

Both teams had everything to play for as the Tigers are sitting in eighth spot on percentages and if they beat the Newcastle Knights next weekend, they too will qualify for their maiden semi finals series since becoming the joint venture, regardless of other results.

The Tigers lead 6-4 early but unforced errors were the telling factor and the Cowboys managed to capitalise on a number of occasions to set themselves up for a big home game against the Cronulla Sharks next weekend in front of a parochial home crowd.

Travis Norton lead the way for the Cowboys, having a superb match and his extensive finals experience with the Bulldogs has paid dividends in his first year with the Cowboys. Matt Bowen also had an excellent game, whilst for the Tigers Brett Hodgson and Pat Richards were the standouts in a disappointing team.

The finals scenario now looks a little clearer with Parramatta and Newcastle both out of contention but both teams can still play spoiler and have a direct influence on who makes the eight and where they finish. If the Tigers lose to Newcastle and either Canberra or the Sharks win, the Tigers are out and either Canberra or the Sharks will make the finals depending on who has a superior for and against. If the Tigers win, they are in.

The Cowboys will finish seventh regardless of what happens next weekend.

If the Eels beat the Roosters, it?s is more than likely the Bulldogs will qualify in first place and the Roosters second so round 26 promises something for everyone.

Scorers: WESTS TIGERS 12 Tries: Richards, Paterson Goals: Hodgson 2/2

defeated by

COWBOYS 24 Tries: Hannay, Myles, Williams, Bowen Goals: Hannay 4/5

By the clock: 1st min: Kickoff! We are underway in the wet at Campbelltown with plenty to play for. The winner will almost certainly make the top eight and the loser will be locked in a battle with the Raiders and Sharks for the reamining position in the top eight.

9th min: TRY - Tigers. Pat Richards scores the first Tigers try after Brett Hodgson put Pat Richards away on a run to the line. Conversion successful. Tigers 6-0.

15th min: Plenty of dropped ball by both sides which means points will come at a premium this afternoon. Tigers still lead 6-0.

20th min: TRY - Cowboys. Josh Hannay gets the Cowboys first try and we have a real contest on our hands. Conversion unsuccessful. Tigers 6-4.

31st min: Nearing the half time break, the crowd has become very vocal and are venting their frustrations against the man with the whistle as Mr Hampstead is policing a very skinny ten metres with penalties going both ways. Still the Tigers 6-4.

35th min: TRY - Cowboys. David Myles literally crawled through some soft Tigers defence to give the Cowboys the lead for the first time in the the match. Conversion successful. Cowboys 10-6.

HALF TIME: The Cowboys hold a slender four point lead and it's all on the line in the second forty as both teams look to secure a maiden semi finals berth.

41st min: Kickoff! We are underway for a torrid second half.

47th min: TRY - Cowboys. Ty Williams swoops on a Scott Prince loose pass and streaks away to score with Pat Richards chasing in vein. Conversion successful. Cowboys 16-6.

51st min: TRY - Cowboys. Matt Bowen gets the ball froma quick scrum and races away to score next to the posts. Conversion successful. Cowboys 22-6.

63rd min: Penalty Goal - Cowboys. Josh Hanny all but assures the Cowboys of a position in the top eight with under seventeen minutes remaining. Cowboys 24-6.

67th min: TRY - Tigers. Nick Paterson keeps the Tigers slim hopes alive and with Hodgson converting, the Tigers are two converted tries from levelling with the Cowboys but the clock is very much against the Tigers. Cowboys 24-12.

75th min: Still no change in the scoreline and time looks to have run out for the Tigers. The Cowboys are in the finals for the first time and the Tigers must beat Newcastle nextg week to be assured of a place in the finals. A very nervous week indeed. Cowboys 24-12.

FULL TIME: The Cowboys have beaten the Tigers 24-12 and qualified for the finals for the first time in their ten year history. The Tigers are still alive and must beat the Newcastle Knights to join the Cowboys in the finals for the first time. If the Tigers lose and either Canberra or Cronulla win, it will come down to a battle of for and against. Round 26 will be one of the most exciting on record.

----------------------------------------- players of the match: 3 - Travis Norton (Cowboys) 2 - Matt Bowen (Cowboys) 1 - Brett Hodgson (Tigers) -----------------------------------------