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The Knights held a commanding 30-0 lead at half time before the Cowboys mounted a second half comeback to trail by just 30-18 with 20 minutes remaining.
But a runaway try from Newcastle five eighth Jarrod Mullen in the 61st minute prove to be the turning point.
Newcastle's victory celebrations may have been dampened with skipper Danny Buderus succumbing to a bicep injury just before full time.
The result sees the Knights move into eighth spot pending other round 24 fixtures, while the Cowboys continue to fight it out with the Bulldogs for the wooden spoon.
Match Details Newcastle Knights 38 def North Queensland Cowboys 24 Round 24 - Saturday August 23rd, 2008 7:30pm Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium Referee: Sean Hampstead Touch Judges: Chris James, Russell Turner Video Referee: Phil Cooley Half time: Knights 30-0 Crowd: 10,323
Newcastle Knights 38 Tries: Danny Buderus, Adam MacDougall, Wes Naiqama, James McManus, Jarrod Mullen (2) Goals: Kurt Gidley (7/7) North Queensland Cowboys 24 Tries: Luke O'Donnell (2), Ty Williams, Aaron Payne Goals: John Williams (4/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
TEAMS: KNIGHTS: 1. Kurt Gidley 2. James McManus 3. Junior Sau 4. Adam MacDougall 5. Wes Naiqama 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Scott Dureau 8. Daniel Tolar 9. Danny Buderus 10. Ben Cross 13. Matt Hilder 21. Cameron Ciraldo 14. Chris Bailey Interchange: 15. Jesse Royal 17. Danny Wicks 20. Chris Houston 22. Richard Fa'aoso COWBOYS: 1. Ashley Graham 2. Ty Williams 3. Mark Henry 4. Ben Harris 5. John Williams 6. Travis Burns 7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Carl Webb 9. Aaron Payne 10. Shane Tronc 11. Luke O'Donnell 15. Dayne Weston 13. Steven Southern Interchange: 12. Sione Faumuina 14. Ben Farrar 17. Ray Cashmere 18. Matthew Scott
Players coming onto the field. Kick off soon....
Knights with the wind at their backs for the first half.
1 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Skipper and hooker Danny Buderus scores for the Kniights following some great support play close to the ruck. Conversion attempt from almost in front by Kurt Gidley is successful. Newcastle Knights 6-0
7 min: PENALTY - Cowboys' forward Luke O'Donnell might be in strife for tackle on Ben Cross that went above the horizontal. Knights have the penalty in easy kicking range but go for the penalty tap from 10m out.
8 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Centre Adam MacDougall gets the try, crashing over out wide following a classy backline movement. Conversion attempt by Gidley from the sideline is successful. Newcastle Knights 12-0
12 min: NO TRY - Knights winger Wes Naiqama unable to ground the ball out wide. Danger signs for the Cowboys, struggling for possession and field position.
14 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Naiqama scores after fielding a cross-field kick from five eighth Jarrod Mullen. Cowboys shot to bits out wide as Naiqama strolls over unopposed to score 15m in from touch. Conversion attempt by Gidley successful. Newcastle Knights 18-0
20 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Winger James McManus scores in the back corner just inside the dead ball line following a deft grubber kick from utility Cameron Ciraldo. Sideline conversion by Gidley shaves the right upright and is successful. Newcastle Knights 24-0
32 min: NO TRY - Cowboys with their best chance of the match so far are unable score when forward Ray Cashmere stretches out but loses the ball over the line. Follows another close call out wide in the same set but the Knights cover defence scrambled well.
35 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Mullen from 8m out dummies his way through some poor defence to score 10m in from touch. Conversion attempt by Gidley successful. Newcastle Knights 30-0
37 min: NO TRY - Knights denied after Naiqama is uable to get to the ball following a kick through from Buderus who was into space. Kick was the wrong option but it'll mean little when stumps are pulled tonight.
Half time: Knights 30-0 Dominant first half from the Knights with around 60% possession and high completion rate. The match looks to be won and lost, its just a question of by how many. Cowboys simply woeful in defence and look set for a hiding.
Second half underway...
45 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Luke O'Donnell takes on the line and crashes over out wide to get the Cowboys' first points of the match. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful. Newcastle Knights 30-6
52 min: Still 30-6. Cowboys lifting with the wind at their backs. A couple of close calls but the Knights defence holds.
55 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Winger Ty Williams scores in the corner after the Cowboys keep the ball alive in the 10m zone. Cowboys looking to make a game of it while the Knights look to have put the cue in the rack. Sideline conversion by John Williams is a ripper. Newcastle Knights 30-12
59 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys A 60m movement with hooker Aaron Payne making the initial bust before Johnathan Thurston powered upfield and passed to Ty Williams. Ty Williams over the line before handing the ball back to Payne who scored under the posts. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful. Newcastle Knights 30-18
61 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Mullen gets a double following an error from O'Donnell. Mullen running 28m to score 15m wide of the posts. Conversion attempt by Gidley successful. Newcastle Knights 36-18
64 min: Rain falling.
68 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys O'Donnell gets a double following some desperate play from Thurston and fullback Ashley Graham close to the line. Cowboys not done with yet. Wide-ish conversion by John Williams is successful. Newcastle Knights 36-24
72 min: PENALTY GOAL Newcastle Knights Referee puts the match beyond doubt with a penalty for laying in the ruck. From roughly 30m out and almost in front, Gidley makes no mistake. Newcastle Knights 38-24
74 min: INJURY - Knights skipper Danny Buderus walks off with an arm injury for what might be his last appearance in front of his home crowd.
77 min: Rain bucketing down now as the match winds down.
Full time: Knights 38-24 10,323 people braving the conditions to see the Knights totally outclass the Cowboys in the first half and play well enough in the second half to run out deserving winners. Lots of entertaining tries from both sides and a huge wrap to the goal kickers, potting 11 goals from 11 attempts in tricky conditions.