A solid first half from the Cowboys saw the visitors score first and maintain their lead before the Roosters hit the front after 28 minutes. But the Cowboys had the last laugh following a tremendous run from front rower Paul Rauhihi, setting up a try for Aaron Payne.
At half time, the Cowboys were in front 18-16.
The second half saw the Roosters score three tries to nil with Finch being the decisive influence. But statistics alone do not do justice to the Cowboys who were still a chance before Finch, in the 75th minutes, stepped through to put the match beyond doubt.
ExpressAdvocate Stadium Referee: Tony Archer Video Referee: Mick Stone Touch Judges: Paul Kalina, Allen Foster
Scorers: ROOSTERS 32 Tries: Byrne 2, Finch 2, Tupou, Webb Goals: Walker 4/7 defeated COWBOYS 22 Tries: B Bowen, Fien, Payne Goals: Hannay 5/6
By the clock: 0 min: A big crowd and great atmosphere in Gosford tonight. A designated home game for the Roosters being played well north of the harbour. Competition leaders, the Roosters missing a number of star players tonight. With the fireworks out of the way, the players are on the field. The Cowboys are kicking off and defending the southern end of the ground. Kickoff!
8 min: NEWS - Penalty goal attempt - Cowboys. Josh Hannay misses one within his range.
10 min: TRY - Cowboys. Grubber kick beats the defence and Brenton Bowen scores out wide. Conversion from Hannay is successful. Cowboys 6-0
15 min: TRY - Roosters. Todd Byrne chimes in to score after a good sequence of quick hands. Wide conversion attempt from Chris Walker is unsuccessful. Cowboys 6-4
18 min: TRY - Cowboys. Following a high kick, Nathan Fien comes up the ball, puts in a grubber and no one is at home... Fien scoring in good position. Conversion Hannay. Cowboys 12-4
20 min: NEWS - Cowboys putting in an impressive defensive display and enjoying 62% possession.
25 min: TRY - Roosters. Anthony Tupou scores under the sticks after hitting the hole. Set up by a Luke Ricketson pass. Conversion Walker. Cowboys 12-10
28 min: TRY - Roosters. Hooker Stuart Webb scores and the Roosters are getting a roll on. Conversion Walker right in front. Roosters 16-12
32 min: NEWS - The breeze is picking up and favouring the Roosters. Brett Finch is taking full advantage with some huge kicks downfield. Possession now 50% even.
39 min: TRY - Cowboys. A sensational run up the middle of the park from Paul Rauhihi, finding support in Aaron Payne who scores. Conversion Hannay. Cowboys 18-16
HALF TIME: Just when the Roosters were looking like taking control, the Cowboys respond to regain the lead right on half time. Minutes earlier, the Roosters were making inroads either side of the ruck and if they continue in the same vein, should go on to win. But the Cowboys are throwing the ball around and with their tails up, have every reason to believe that an upset is on the cards.
Half time stats: Possession: Cowboys 52% Tackles: Roosters 145-127 Mistackles: Cowboys 12-10 Offloads: Cowboys 10-7 Errors: Roosters 6-4 Hit ups: Cowboys 82-76 Completions: Roosters 16/21; Cowboys 17/20 Penalties: 5-all Score: Cowboys 18-16
Second half underway...
43 min: TRY - Roosters. Brett Finch steps and scores from close range. Follows a raid in the previous set. Wide conversion attempt from Walker misses. Roosters 20-18
47 min: PENALTY GOAL - Cowboys. Hannay makes no mistake and the scores are level. 20-all
52 min: NEWS - A great match here with both sides throwing it around and a number of try saving tackles at both ends. Possession just favouring Cowboys 51%
53 min: PENALTY GOAL - Cowboys. No problem for Hannay as the Cowboys hit the front again. Two points instead of a possible six, following a Cowboys' raid. Cowboys 22-20
62 min: TRY - Roosters. Byrne scores following a half bust from Shannon Hegarty who drew in the defence. Sideline conversion from Walker is a ripper. Roosters 26-22
70 min: NEWS - Penalty goal attempt from Walker (Roosters) just wide but goes dead. A 40 metre effort.
75 min: TRY - Roosters. Finch marshalls his troops and then just goes straight through for himself. Conversion Walker 15m in from touch is OK. Roosters 32-22
FULL TIME: A solid win in the end to the Roosters in a highly entertaining match. The Roosters finally putting the Cowboys away after 75 minutes - scoring three tries to nil in the second half and just a little two good when it counted. There was a lot to like about the Cowboys tonight who, despite some errors at critical times, were gallant in defeat and backed themselves all night. The entire North Queensland front row can hold their heads high.
Full time stats: Possession: Roosters 52% Tackles: Cowboys 289-260 Mistackles: Cowboys 26-25 Offloads: 15-all Errors: Roosters 12-11 Hit ups: Roosters 163-147 Completions: Roosters 31/39; Cowboys 27/35 Penalties: Cowboys 8-7 Score: Roosters 32-22
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - B Finch (Roosters) 2 - P Rauhihi (Cowboys) 1 - S Webb (Roosters) -----------------------------------------