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The Cowboys pulled off an upset against the the competition leaders, defeating the Melbourne Storm 20-16 in front of 10,688 fans at Aami Park.
In a match that went right down to the wire, Johnathan Thurston's goal kicking proved to be the difference, with the Queensland five-eighth capping off a perfect night with the boot with a penalty kick in the 77th minute to seal the win.
Boosted by the return of captain Cameron Smith, the Storm were in control early in the match before opening up the scoring through Matt Duffie in the 11th minute. Smith missed the conversion leaving the Storm lead at four.
The Cowboys hit back with a try to Kane Linnett in the 19th minute. Johnathan Thurston added the extras to give the Cowboys the lead.
With both teams playing fairly disciplined football in the back end of the half, try scoring opportunities were few and far between and the score remained unchanged going in to the break.
The sides were hard to split early in the second half with a spate of errors and penalties coming from both sides.
It was the home side who were the first to score again in the second half, with Gareth Widdop scoring courtesy of a Cooper Cronk cross-field kick in the 56th minute. Smith added the extras.
The Cowboys hit-back in the 61st minute through Brent Tate who scored on the back of some Thurston brilliance. Thurston added the extras to reclaim the lead for the Cowboys.
Thurston was impressive again a few minutes later after finding some space down the right side before offloading to Linnett, who showed some brilliance of his own to streak away to score. Thurston added the extras.
The Storm finally hit back through Anthony Quinn in the 75th minute before Smith added the extras to make it a two-point ball game.
With five minutes left in the game, and two-points the difference the match was set up for an exciting finish. However, it was not to be after a Storm line drop out did not go 10 metres, gifting the Cowboys a penalty from right in front. Thurston took his time to add the points, leaving the Storm with less than two minutes to steal victory.
With the game all but wrapped up and the ball in hand, the Cowboys made no mistakes in the final minutes and came away with the two points.
Tonight's win sees the Cowboys right on the cusps of the top eight, they host the Tigers next week.
As for the Storm, they have now lost four out of their last five matches, they will head to Parramatta next weekend where they take on the last placed Eels.
Melbourne Storm 16 were defeated by North Queensland Cowboys 20
National Rugby League - Round 19 - Saturday July 14, 2012 5:30pm
Venue: AAMI Park
Referee: Tony Archer and Gavin Morris
Video Referee: Pat Reynolds
Touch Judges: Jeff Younis and Gavin West
Halftime: Melbourne Storm 4 North Queensland Cowboys 6
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Kane Linnett (2 Tries)
2 Points - Johnathan Thurston (3 Conversions, 1 Penalty Goal)
1 Point - Gareth Widdop (1 Try)
MELBOURNE STORM (16)
Tries: Anthony Quinn, Gareth Widdop, Matt Duffie
Conversions: Cameron Smith (2/3)
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (20)
Tries: Brent Tate, Kane Linnett (2)
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Johnathan Thurston (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good evening Rugby League fans and welcome to Aami Park where the competition leaders, the Melbourne Storm take on the North Queensland Cowboys.
We have crisp overcast conditions in Melbourne at the moment where our two coaches have announced their final sides. For the home side Maurice Blair and Dane Nielsen are out, Rory Kostjasyn moves to five-eight, he will be replaced on the bench by Jaiman Lowe who will be starting on the bench in jersey 19. Sisa Waqa comes into the side and will start on the right wing. Sika Manu alse moves to the bench with Kevin Proctor starting in the back row.
1 min: We are under way at Aami Park.
3 min: Melbourne receive the first penalty of the night.
4 min: Todd Lowie spills the ball and the Cowboys are off the hook.
5 min: Lowrie now concedes a penalty.
6 min: Matt Bowen grubbers into the in goal on the last and Gareth Widdop cleans it up for the Storm.
7 min: The Storm will receive a line drop out after Jason Ryles forces an error and puts Widdop into space. Cronk forces a drop out.
8 min: Possible try to the Storm here.
8 min: No try! O'Neil's leg was over the dead ball line when he grounded Kostjasyn's grubber.
10 min: The Storm receive a penalty 15 out from their own line.
13 min: TRY
TRY! Cronk puts up a chip bomb on the last and Matt Duffie leaps above Kane Linnett and Antonio Winterstein.
Melbourne Storm 4-0
17 min: The Cowboys receive a penalty 40 out from their own line.
19 min: TRY
TRY! The Cowboys spread it out wide through Bowen and Johnathan Thurston and Kane Linnett scores. Thurston's conversion attempt is successful.
North Queensland Cowboys 6-4
23 min: Storm are only 30 out from the Cowboys try line on tackle five after some great running.
24 min: The Storm force a line drop out off a Cameron Smith kick.
25 min: Brain Norrie is forced to take the kick on the last, he puts up a chip bomb and Winterstein diffuses it a few metres out from his own line.
30 min: Cowboys are winning the metre battle in this passage of play. They have finished their last three sets in Storm territory.
33 min: Cronk goes straight through and the Storm are only 30 out on the third tackle.
34 min: Brent Tate takes an intercept and puts Bowen into space. Bowen is brought down 10 short of halfway.
36 min: The Storm will get a scrum 40 metres out from the Cowboys' line after Michael Morgan loses the ball late on the last tackle.
38 min: Cronks goes to the air on the last and the ball is allowed to bounce. Winterstein takes the ball and starts to sprint down field but is brought down by Justin O'Neil 20 out from his own line.
40 min: The Cowboys get six again a few metres out from the Storm line.
40 min: Ashton Sims loses the ball and that the half.
41 min: Thurton kicks off to bring us under way in the second half.
41 min: The Cowboys receive a penalty on half way.
43 min: Thurston is caught with the ball on the last and throws a loose pass out the back. Lowe dives on the loose ball and saves the day for the Storm.
45 min: Bowen is pinned for a forward pass 30 out from the Melbourne line.
46 min: The Storm are pinned for holding down a player and the Cowboys will start a set on halfway.
47 min: Linnett busts through the Melbourne defence only to be brought down centre-metres out from the try line on the third tackle.
47 min: Thurston loses the ball and the Storm are off the hook.
51 min: Ricky Thorby loses the ball on halfway and the Storm will go on the attack.
52 min: Jesse Bromwich loses the ball 10 out from the Cowboys' line.
54 min: The Storm receive a penalty and will get a piggyback up the field.
55 min: The Storm receive another penalty and will go right on the attack.
56 min: Possible try to the Storm.
58 min: TRY
TRY! Widdop scores off a Cronk grubber. Smith adds the extras from right in front.
Melbourne Storm 10-6
61 min: TRY
TRY! Thurstan chips the ball and races through to boot the ball into the in goal, Tate wins the race to the ball and grounds it to level the score. Thurston adds the extras to give his side the lead again.
North Queensland Cowboys 12-10
63 min: Cowboys looking really potent in attack at the moment.
65 min: The Storm receive a penalty on their own 30.
67 min: Possible try to the Storm.
67 min: No try! Justin O'Neil lost the ball over the line after leaping above the back to take a Cronk cross-field bomb.
70 min: TRY
TRY! Thurston makes a break down the right touchline and offloads the ball to Linnett who throws a dummy before racing away to score. Thurston adds the extras.
North Queensland Cowboys 18-10
74 min: The Storm get a tackle count restart on halfway after the Cowboys play at the ball.
75 min: TRY
TRY! Cronk throws a beautiful inside pass to Anthony Quin who scores. Smith adds the extras.
North Queensland Cowboys 18-16
77 min: The Cowboys force a line drop out.
77 min: Storm go for a short kick off and it does not go ten metres, penalty to the Cowboys 10 out.
78 min: PENALTY GOAL
The Cowboys opt to take the two and after taking a minute to set up his tee, Thurston adds the two from right in front.
North Queensland Cowboys 20-16
80 min: Bowen takes the ball into the touch after the hooter sounds and the Cowboys have pulled off an upset, defeating the Storm 20-16 at Aami Park.