Injuries cruel Canberra as Cowboys launch comeback

It was a dramatic afternoon in the Nation's Capital with the Raiders giving up a 22-0 lead after half an hour to lose 40-24 to a Cowboys outfit brimming with representative talent.

The Raiders were dominant in the early stages of the match, keeping pace with the clock in a performance reminiscent of Manly's win over Canterbury the night before. Strong showings from Josh Dugan and Jarrod Croker had the home side on top 22-0 after half an hour, with the Raiders' forward pack rolling strongly over the top of a lacklustre showing from the Cowboys.

26 minutes in, however, the whole game changed. Josh Dugan, returning a regulation kick, sidestepped a number of Cowboys defenders before crunching his leg beneath a tackle. He hobbled off moments later and while Raider returnee Terry Campese was his replacement, alarm bells were ringing. Thurston soon got the Cowboys on the board, and minutes later when Glenn Hall crossed, things looked worrying for the hosts. Under the weight of Hall's try, Campese's ineffectual tackle resulted in further injury and the Raiders' bench was down to two as he left the park as well.

The Cowboys would put a further try on the board before the siren, Tariq Sims starring both before and after the break. 43 minutes in, the younger of the two Sims brothers was at it again - Tariq bagging a double as the Cowboys drew level. From there, surprisingly, both sides tightened their defensive lines and it became an arm-wrestle. It wasn't until the 65th minute the Raiders would reclaim the lead, a Jarrod Croker penalty goal after the young centre was run off the ball chasing through.

The Cowboys weren't laying down though - a massive three tries in the final four minutes pushed them to a lead which was ultimately emphatic to finish 40-24 winners.

The worry for the Raiders will be the injuries to Dugan and Campese, the former of course a worry for the NSW Blues team announcement later this afternoon. This comes ahead of a daunting road trip to Suncorp Stadium next Sunday where Canberra will face Brisbane. The Cowboys will head to Brookvale Oval on Saturday night for what promises to be match of the round against Manly-Warringah.

Match Details
Canberra Raiders 24 were defeated by North Queensland Cowboys 40
National Rugby League - Round 13 - Sunday June 5, 2011 2:00pm
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Referee: Gavin Badger and Phil Haines
Video Referee: Russell Smith
Touch Judges: Jason Walsh and David Munro
Crowd: 11,128
Halftime: Canberra Raiders 22 North Queensland Cowboys 18

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Tariq Sims (2 Tries)
2 Points - Johnathan Thurston (1 Try, 6 Conversions)
1 Point - Jarrod Croker (1 Try, 3 Conversions, 1 Penalty Goal)

CANBERRA RAIDERS (24)
Tries: Joe Picker, Jarrod Croker, Blake Ferguson, Josh McCrone
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Jarrod Croker (1/1)

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (40)
Tries: Aaron Payne, Johnathan Thurston, Glenn Hall, Tariq Sims (2), Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa (2)
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (6/7)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Team changes: Both sides lose their number 14's for this clash - Glen Buttriss replaced by #18 Terry Campese for Canberra; James Segeyaro replaced by #18 Michael Morgan for the North Queensland side. Both sides starting lineups are 1-13. Canberra will wear their black alternate strip in honour of late board member Jim Murphy today.
Toyota Cup: A close, low-scoring clash (for NYC standards) has seen the Cowboys pip the Raiders at the post - North Queensland 20 Canberra 18.
Both sides out on the park. Both sides with some emotion to play for - the Cowboys of course losing Sam Faust last week, Canberra board member Jim Murphy passing away this week. A moments silence now.
Play begins at Canberra Stadium, a decent crowd reasonably quiet early as the Raiders have first possession.
2 min: Good metres for the Cowboys in their return set, they set up camp just inside the Raiders' half before testing Josh Dugan under the high ball. The Blues fullback takes it safely before being driven back a few metres.
3 min: Josh McCrone claims a 40/20... the touchie doesn't agree and the Video Referee confirms the call, Cowboys will get the scrum just on the other side of the 20m line.
5 min: VIDEO REFEREE and it looks like Blake Ferguson has claimed first points with a try for Canberra. Checking grounding...
6 min: TRY
TRY Canberra Raiders
Scored by Blake Ferguson. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
It's Ferguson's 9th try of 2011, he's in great form when it comes to finishing! The Raiders made good inroads to get close to the Cowboys line and the kick across field from Josh Dugan on the last finds Ferguson who reaches out strongly to post the first try of the day. Croker adds the extra two.
Canberra Raiders 6-0
7 min: Cowboys restart goes dead on the full. Raiders tap on halfway - and some are wondering why they didn't take the kick for touch.
9 min: Not much working for the Cowboys so far today, terrible play the ball inside their own 40m line gives Canberra a scrum.
11 min: TRY
TRY Canberra Raiders
Scored by Jarrod Croker. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker unsuccessful.
Canberra so far today looking a bit like Manly last night - very confident, taking advantage of every opposition error and playing fantastic footy. A short ball close to the line out wide sends Jarrod Croker in after just 11 minutes. The ball falls of the kicking tee twice and that shakes Croker a bit as he attempts the conversion, and misses.
Canberra Raiders 10-0
13 min: Easy stuff for Canberra who dominate possession 70%-30% just 13 minutes in. They're in good field position but they cough it up this time, Bowen coming away from his own line with it now.
18 min: TRY
TRY Canberra Raiders
Scored by Joe Picker. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
Superb stuff continuing from Canberra, Joe Picker is over to score! Croker's conversion attempt again almost thwarted by the wind but he's too close to the posts to miss this time.
Canberra Raiders 16-0
21 min: 21 minutes in and possession is 71-29 in favour of the Raiders. Unbelievable. Drop ball Cowboys inside their own half. Scrum-feed for Canberra just 30m out...
22 min: TRY
TRY Canberra Raiders
Scored by Josh McCrone. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
From the scrum McCrone gets it and is straight past every Cowboy defender to score. Croker ensures the Raiders stay on track with the clock - 22-0 after 22 minutes!
Canberra Raiders 22-0
24 min: Another huge break and the Raiders are in striking distance again. A high ball troubles Ash Graham, who loses it backwards, but holds on and the Cowboys will just be looking to complete a set. They get a relieving penalty to piggyback them out of trouble here...
24 min: The penalty kick for touch has gone 55 metres! Cowboys on the attack now.
26 min: The last tackle option for the Cowboys was that of a team down by 22 and out of options. Dugan takes the Thurston stab through the line and shrugs off multiple defenders before slipping under a tackle. Dugan looks to be INJURED - Ricky Stuart's weekend hasn't been great thus far and it could get worse...
26 min: Dugan wanders off the field not looking in great shape, while the Raiders faithful celebrate the return of Terry Campese, who'll replace him.
29 min: High tackle from Canberra means it's a PENALTY against them and the Cowboys get another chance to go inside the opposition half.
31 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Scored by Johnathan Thurston. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Johnathon Thurston brings something back for the Cowboys in the shape of a try, converting his own four-pointer.
Canberra Raiders 22-6
34 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Scored by Glenn Hall. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Glenn Hall crashes over and suddenly we have a contest. Dugan is still off, Campese has injured himself trying to stop Hall scoring! Thurston converts.
Canberra Raiders 22-12
36 min: Campese hobbles off, he's injured. Now we see Shaun Fensom down, although he doesn't look to be going off.
39 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Scored by Tariq Sims. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Tariq Sims straight through and that's some terrible defence from Canberra. The Dugan and Campese injuries have rattled this team big time. Thurston has no trouble from in front and the margin is cut to four.
Canberra Raiders 22-18
HALFTIME at Canberra Stadium where Canberra 22 lead North Queensland 18 in a bizarre match. The Raiders had all the momentum for the first 25 minutes until suddenly Josh Dugan went down injured. Terry Campese replaced him but minutes later he disappeared. All the while, the Raiders 22-0 lead was eaten away by a Cowboys side who had found their energy. Just four points in it and you'd have to say the Cowboys look the goods to continue the job - but stranger things have happened. Stay with us for the second half, underway soon.
As we return from the break, make sure you're following us on Twitter - click here. For this match, add the hashtag #nrlcancow to your tweets!
41 min: Second half underway and the Cowboys' first kick deep down the park is a tricky one for Reece Robinson and he spills it. Cowboys scrum just 20m from the opposition line... compounded with a penalty!
42 min: VIDEO REFEREE possible try Cowboys - Tariq Sims is claiming a double, however we're checking obstruction by Dallas Johnson on Joe Picker.
43 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Scored by Tariq Sims. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston unsuccessful.
The Cowboys draw level early in the second half at a very quiet Canberra Stadium. Tariq Sims has a brace and Russell Smith deems Picker just made a bad read. Thurston misses.
22 all
45 min: Joe Picker has been nailed attempting to field a kick, Ash Graham the culprit. Picker has come down winded but the referee has ruled handover as it was ruled a knock-on. Cowboys ball on their own 30m line.
48 min: North Queensland work their way up the park and have a couple of goes at the Raiders' line before Ashton Sims loses the ball. Canberra scrumfeed.
50 min: Dane Tilse is carrying the ball forward but it's very loose and a helping hand sees him spill it. Cowboys inside Canberra territory again now...
52 min: The Cowboys looked dangerous down the left and Faifai-Loa went close before handing it inside to a waiting Raider. Canberra now away down the other end of the park, and force the drop-out!
55 min: Since the Cowboys drawing level, both sides have engaged in a bit of an arm-wrestle. Both sides have the strike-power to cut through, who'll do it first?
57 min: The Canberra Stadium faithful are finding their voice, plenty believe the Cowboys are inside the ten. A good stab through from McCrone forces Bowen to put the ball dead. Line dropout, the Cowboys' 3rd of the day.
59 min: Ferguson and Thompson pressing the issue down the right side for Canberra, but a forced offload is spilled into touch and the Cowboys get the scrum on their own 20.
62 min: Canberra making good in-roads through the middle toward the end of the set before a messy grubber is cleaned up by Matt Bowen on his own ten metre line.
65 min: PENALTY GOAL
PENALTY GOAL Canberra Raiders
Penalty goal attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
This could be critical - PENALTY Raiders after a Cowboys player ran Jarrod Croker off the ball while Matt Bowen caught it. Contentious call and it gives the Raiders a shot at two. Croker makes no mistake of it and Canberra are back in front.
Canberra Raiders 24-22
69 min: Last tackle Raiders' cross-field kick is fielded too easily by the Cowbvoys in-goal. 20m restart and the Cowboys are making good metres up the park.
70 min: Tariq Sims is wrapped up on the last just metres from the goalline for the Cowboys. Handover and Canberra will work it off their own line.
72 min: Ferguson away down the sideline, it's a footrace, Bowen comes over and gets him into touch! Fantastic rugby league. Cowboys scrum just near to halfway, Ferguson's taking a while to get up.
76 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Scored by Aaron Payne. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
A strong break down the left from Faifai-Loa puts the Raiders on the back foot, then the next play from halfway sees Tariq Sims burst through some tired Canberra defenders before putting Aaron Payne into space. The Cowboys lead for the first time today as Thurston adds two more.
North Queensland Cowboys 28-24
77 min: Raiders short kickoff and they go straight on the attack!
79 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Scored by Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
The Raiders looked likely until Tilse was first receiver on the last tackle. McCrone spills it at second receiver, Thurston picks it up, runs 20 metres and puts Fai-Fai Loa into the clear, that's the ball-game. Thurston converts the try he helped set up.
North Queensland Cowboys 34-24
80 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Scored by Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Fai-Fai Loa has the latest double in NRL history, scoring in the 79th and 80th minutes to make this result look far more convincing than anyone thought. Thurston adds the final two points of the game and it's FULLTIME at Canberra Stadium.
North Queensland Cowboys 40-24

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