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The North Queensland Cowboys have comprehensively beaten the St George-Illawarra Dragons, downing them 36-16 at the Oki Jubilee Stadium this afternooon.
The Cowboys took advantage of a flat footed and uncommitted Dragons defence to score three quick tries in the first fifteen minutes, bustling up through the middle with Ty Williams also making several long runs up the left hand side.
The Dragons struck back after a Matt Bowman mistake saw him pass the ball from a Dragons bomb to the wing back inside into empty space. Brett Firman pounced on the ball and scored, but it was a lucky try. The Cowboys' weight of possession, committed attack and improved kicking game saw them going into the break clear and deserved leaders at 22-10.
The Dragons came out firing in the second half but the Cowboys defence held them out. It didn't take long for the Cowboys to get back on top, scoring two more tries.
A penalty against the Dragons, when Jason Ryles incurred the wrath of the ref for apparently interfering with Ty Williams in backplay, saw a further two points added to the Cowboys tally.
For the Dragons, captain Lance Thompson, one of the few Dragons who played with total committment for the full eighty minutes, forced his way over in an individual display of determination.
The Cowboys win sees them entering the top eight while the Dragons drop out. For Dragons fans, it was a disappointing display for what was only the team's second outing at their 'spiritual home' of Kogarah and, for the Cowboys, yet another demonstration that they have matured as a side and are perfectly capable of winning games away from home.
Sunday 1st June Oki Jubilee Stadium Referee: Shayne Hayne
DRAGONS 16 Tries: Firman, Roberts, Thompson Goals: Byrne 2/3 COWBOYS 36 Tries: Sing 2, Bowman, Sheppard, Williams, Morrison Goals: Hannay 6/7
League Unlimited player of the year points: 3 - G Morrison (Cowboys) 2 - M Sing (Cowboys) 1 - C Sheppard (Cowboys)
By the clock:
8th min: TRY - Cowboys. Paul Bowman. Josh Hannay's conversion successful
12th min: TRY - Cowboys. Chris Sheppard pounces on a pass and scores. Hannay converts again.
15th min: TRY - Cowboys. Dragons lazy defence allows Matt Sing to run around and score under the post. Hannay converts from right in front.
19th min: TRY - Dragons. A little bit of luck for the Dragons after a Firman bomb sees Matt Bowman, under pressure, try to pass the ball back to his team-mates. Brett Firman on the spot to gather the loose ball and score for the Dragons. Dean Byrne converts.
29th min: TRY - Cowboys. Sheppard puts a kick in for Matt Sing who scores out wide. Hannay just misses the conversion. The Dragons are being blown off the park.
35th min: TRY - Dragons. Sean Timmins gets away a good pass which eventually finds Amos Roberts, who scores out wide. Byrne misses the difficult conversion.
HALF TIME The Cowboys dominate the first half of the game, bustling a flat footed Dragons defence and scoring four tries to the Dragons two. Dragons improving into the break but unable to add to their score.
42nd min: NEWS - Dragons come out firing but Nero is bundled into touch without scoring. Amos Roberts taken out of the game indefinitely with a shoulder injury.
56th min: TRY - Cowboys. McWilliams puts in a kick over the top for Ty Williams who has put himself in a position to score.
59th min: TRY - Cowboys. Ty Williams puts it on the boot. Glenn Morrison chases it down and scores. Hannay converts.
65th min: PENALTY - Cowboys. Hannay adds to the Dragons pain.
75th min: TRY - Dragons. Thompson picks the ball up from dummy half and forces his way through to score. Byrne converts.