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Fulltime score: Round 16 RAIDERS 23 v COWBOYS 22 Match summary: A late field goal from veteran campaigner Jason Smith has sealed victory with the Canberra Raiders narrowly defeating the North Queensland Cowboys 23-22 at Canberra Stadium tonight.
The Cowboys came out all guns blazing in the early stages, leading 12-0 after 13 minutes and looking like they were going to run away with it.
But the Raiders struck back with four unanswered tries and at half time, the home side held a handy 22-12 lead.
The Cowboys scored early in the second half but with rain falling, both sides were guilty of handling errors. The Cowboys had their chances, launching numerous attacking raids. But the Canberra side held firm.
The Cowboys finally broke through in the 71st minute to lock it up at 22-all amidst a flurry of field goal attempts.
Smith landed the match winner in the 74th minute before Queensland Origin half back Johnathon Thurston made two unsuccessful attempts just before full time.
Scorers: CANBERRA RAIDERS 23 Tries: Withers, J Smith, Ale, Tongue Goals: Schifcofske 3/4 Field Goal: Schifcofske 0/1, J Smith 1/1 NTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS 22 Tries: Bowen 2, Bowman, Thurston Goals: Thurston 3/4 Field Goal: Thurston 0/2
Canberra Stadium Referee: Stephen Clark Half time: Raiders 22-12
Live commentary: 0 min: Jason Smith back for the Raiders, Travis Norton back for the Cowboys. Stand by for a cracker of a match in Canberra tonight. The Raiders kickoff!
2 min: TRY - Cowboys. Matt Bowen scores under the posts after Luke O'Donnell busts through some ordinary defence from 40m out. Conversion Johnathon Thurston. Cowboys 6-0
13 min: TRY - Cowboys. Bowen gets a double as the Raiders open up again. Conversion OK from Thurston. Cowboys 12-0
17 min: TRY - Raiders. Lincoln Withers hits the line from close range and manages to get the ball on the line. Follows back-to-back penalties to the Raiders. Conversion from Clinton Schifcofske 15m in from touch is successful. Cowboys 12-6
20 min: NO TRY - Cowboys denied after Jason Croker saves the day by knocking the ball from Matt Sing's arms.
TRY - Raiders. Jason Smith scores and gets the nod from the video ref for a dusty try 10m wide of the posts. A loose ball with Smith getting benefit of the doubt after chasing his own kick. Conversion Schifcofske. 12-all
30 min: TRY - Raiders. Winger Jermaine Ale surveys video ref scrutiny, touching down following a kick through from Withers. Wide-ish converson attempt from Schifcofske is waved away. Raiders 16-12
33 min: TRY - Raiders. Alan Tongue scores under the posts, stepping through from 10m out. Very soft try with the Cowboys simply failing to tackle close to their own line. Convesion OK. Raiders 22-12
Half time: Raiders 22-12 The Cowboys dominating for the first 15 minutes with two tries and no doubt sending shivers through the Raiders supporters. But in an amazing turnaround, the home side have come back with interest, scoring four unanswered tries. Lincoln Withers in great form for the Raiders.
Second half underway...
NEWS - Rain falling.
45 min: TRY - Cowboys. Paul Bowman scores in the corner after muscling his past the defence. Conversion attempt in the pouring rain from Thurston is unsuccessful. Raiders 22-16
55 min: NEWS - Raiders hanging on with one player short on the bench. Cowboys throwing everything at them. Still bucketing down in the nation's capital.
65 min: Still 22-16 to the Raiders. Plenty of handling errors, especially from the Raiders in their own danger zone. Cowboys sending waves of attack at the Canberra line.
69 min: FIELD GOAL ATTEMPT from Canberra's Schifcofske goes wide, Still 22-16 in favour of the Raiders.
71 min: TRY - Cowboys. Thurston scores just wide of the posts following a high kick from 40m out. Thurston's conversion is spot on. Its all locked up at 22-all
74 min: FIELD GOAL - Raiders. Jason Smith puts the Raiders in front, kicking from a wide angle. Raiders 23-22
76 min: Raiders have the ball 20m out from their own line.
77 min: Cowboys have the ball 40m out from their own line.
78 min: Raiders get the ball back and then find touch, the Cowboys will have the ball from near half way.
79 min: FIELD GOAL ATTEMPT from Thurston comes off the side off the boot. In the next play, the Raiders lose the ball and the Cowboys have one last chance.
80 min: FIELD GOAL ATTEMPT from Thurston is much better from 40m out but goes wide.
FULL TIME: Raiders win a close one, 23-22. An entertaining match with both sides keeping us on the edge of our seats until the end. The Raiders earning the deserving edge at full time. For the man of the match, I know most people will have a soft spot for old fella Jason Smith; but a quick review shows Raiders half back Lincoln Withers also putting in a huge workload and setting up numerous plays. Half back Johnathon Thurston did his best for the Cowboys while back rower Luke O'Donnell worked his heart out and was an unsung hero in a losing side.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - L Withers (Raiders) 2 - J Smith (Raiders) 1 - L O'Donnell (Cowboys) -----------------------------------------