Cowboys stampede Saints in Townsville

Match Summary The North Queensland Cowboys have moved into third position on the NRL ladder after defeating St George Illawarra Dragons 24-14 at Dairy Farmers Stadium tonight.

After trailing 6-0 midway through the first half, the Cowboys lifted to score two tries late in the stanza to lead 12-6 at half time.

A career first try to Ray Cashmere in the 33rd minute put the North Queenslanders on the front foot, the prop forward stunning the defence with a barging run from 15 metres out. The four-pointer was the highlight of the night for Cashmere who topped the count for hit-ups, off-loads and metres gained for the home side.

The Dragons found themselves back in the match soon after the break with centre Matt Cooper scoring the first of his two tries out wide.

But the Cowboys kept their composure before going up a gear with a try in the 62nd minute followed by another five minutes later.

St George Illawarra crossed for a final four-pointer late in the match.

Match Details Round 23 - Full Time :: August 18th, 2007 07:30 PM Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium Referee: Ben Cummins Half time: Cowboys 12-6

North Queensland Cowboys 24 Tries: Ray Cashmere, Matthew Bowen, Jason Smith, Paul Bowman Goals: Johnathan Thurston (4/4) St George Illawarra Dragons 14 Tries: Ben Hornby, Matt Cooper (2) Goals: Jamie Soward (1/3) Player of the Match 3 Points: Ray Cashmere (Cowboys) 2 Points: Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys) 1 Point: Carl Webb (Cowboys) Live Commentary Welcome the Dairy Farmers Stadium in Townsville. Both sides with one or two changes. Beau Scott is out for the Dragons. Cowboys have a few more out forcing a reshuffle in the forwards and backline. Cowboys to kick off... KICK OFF!

4 min: Possible TRY to Dragons. Video ref looking... Verdict: NO TRY. 20m restart to Cowboys. Dragons five-eighth/centre Mark Gasnier knocking on during scramble and leap for the ball following a high kick from halfback Jamie Soward.

7 min: Cowboys with a repeat set following a chip into the in-goal from halfback Johnathan Thurston.

9 min: Back-to-back penalties to the Cowboys. More pressure.

10 min: Solid defence from the Dragon sees the ball jolted loose and possession to Saints. But they lose the ball a couple of tackles later and the Cowboys are back on the attack.

11 min: Possible TRY to Cowboys. Video ref looking... Verdict: NO TRY. Penalty to Dragons after obstruction is ruled against the Cowboys.

17 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Fullback Ben Hornby scores next to the sticks following a 70m movement beginning forward Dan Hunt offloading in traffic and culminating with a kick in-field from winger Jason Nightingale. Follows a period of play where the Cowboys were dominant in possession and field position. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 6-0

25 min: Dragons gaining the ascendancy after defending well and then managing to hang onto the ball for a few sets. Section highlighted by a kick out on the full from Thurston which was helped over the touchline by Nightingale, having the presence of mind to put his leg on the line while catching on the full.

33 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Prop Ray Cashmere makes bullocking run from 15m out to score next to the posts. Dragons defence going to sleep following a simple tap penalty to the Cowboys. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. 6 all

37 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Fullback Matty Bowen scores 15m wide of the posts. Follows a big bust from prop forward Carl Webb up the middle of the park in the previous ruck. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 12-6

Half time: Cowboys 12-6 Two tries to the Cowboys late in the half have given the home side a big edge. Saints had a torrid opening 15 minutes defending their own line and coughing up the ball repeatedly. After scoring first, Saints looked to getting on top before a couple of defensive laspes saw the Cowboys back in the hunt. Possession slightly favouring the Cowboys. Plenty of penalties in the opening 40, favouring the Cowboys 7-5.

Second half underway...

42 min: Possible TRY to Cowboys. Video ref looking... Verdict: NO TRY. 20m tap restart. Cowboys winger Ty Williams ruled to have been tackled into the corner post before touching down.

46 min: Possible TRY to Dragons. Video ref looking... Verdict...

46 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Benefit of the doubt. Centre Matt Cooper gets the nod from the video ref, scoring in the corner and and surviving scrutiny over the grounding. Follows a last tackle option of going through the hands with Soward passing to Cooper out wide. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward unsuccessful. North Queensland Cowboys 12-10

55 min: Dragons with repeat sets at the Cowboys line. Good defence from Cowboys holds them out. But handling error from Bowen will give Saints another shot.

60 min: Cowboys now with a chance, attacking the Dragons line from 10m out.

62 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Jason Smith scores next to the posts after Thurston holds up the ball for an eternity, Smith taking the ball on the burst from close range. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 18-10

64 min: Big bust up the middle from Jason Smith from half way, kicks ahead, the ball goes over the dead ball line.

67 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Centre Paul Bowman scores 11m wide of the posts after the Cowboys launch a raid from right to left. An overlap develops and Bowman improves his position for the conversion. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 24-10

72 min: Cowboys with plenty of the ball and getting a repeat set at the Dragons goal line.

73 min: INJURY. Dragons fullback Ben Hornby limps off with a leg injury.

75 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Cooper gets a double out wide on the left. Follows a bust down the right side from Mark Gasnier who was tackled just short of the line by Matt Bowen - Bowen injured in the tackle. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward unsuccessful, just shaving the left upright. North Queensland Cowboys 24-14

Fulltime Cowboys 24-14 A hard fought win for the Cowboys who now move to third on the NRL ladder. For the victors, Thurston, Bowen, Webb, Scott, Faiumu, Bowman, Faust, Cashmere and Jason Smith all had strong games. Matt Bowen appeared OK at fulltime after having the wind knocked out of him in the 75th minute. The Dragons were ultimately outplayed and were guilty of numerous errors, but showed some determination despite being no hope for a finals berth. Cooper, Soward, Gasnier, Creagh, Hunt and Ryles all had a go, plus special mention to winger Jason Nightingale who showed plenty of G&D.