The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Rockhampton Leagues Club Central Queensland Comets lock forward Herewini Rangi showed he is going to be a handy recruit but unfortunately the experienced Cowboys were just too good for his side the Comets defeating them 44-nil at Browne Park, Rockhampton on Saturday February 12 in the second round of the Minniecon & Burke Comets Pre-Season Challenge.
The 2002 Junior Kiwi was impressive in a defeated side not taking a back ward step from his highly recognised opponents. He was agressive in both attack and defence and has given Comets coach Neale Crow a pleasant headache with Rangi, former Canberra Raider lower grader David Nixon and QR Development Squad product Mick Esdale suited for the lock forward position.
Despite big efforts from Rangi, Nixon, props Kurt Cawdron and Kane Hardy as well as half Aoterangi Herangi, replacement fullback Mark Henry and winger John Tamanika the Comets were unable to crack the Cowboys line.
The experienced Cowboys line up with a combined total of over 600 NRL games under their belt started well with Leigh McWilliams spliting the Comets in the middle running 35 metres before passing wide to Rory Bromley who scored out wide in his debut for the Cowboys after just three minutes. Brenton Bowen converted and the Cowboys led 6-nil.
After ten minutes the Central Queensland crowd was left to pick their jaws up off the ground in dis-belief as the 4000 strong crowd seen a little Bowen magic but it wasn't Matthew it was cousin Brenton from a kick return. Bromley scooped up the ball and threw it in field to Bowen who used some flashy foot work to get through the Comets kick chase team and run 80 metres to score under the posts. Bowen converted his own try and the Cowboys led 12-nil.
Just before quarter time the Cowboys were once again on the attack 20 metres out and the ball was thrown three wide to former Brisbane Bronco Carl Webb who brushed off four defenders to score one of his signature blockbusting tries. Bowen missed the conversion and the Cowboys went in 16-nil up at quarter time.
The second quarter was a showcase of some great defence from both sides with the Comets and Cowboys continually repelling each other from scoring opportunities.
The Cowboys managed to score a try just before the break with some great creativity from half Chris Sheppard who turned Josh Hannay back inside for him to crash over. Bowen once again missed with the attempted conversion and the Cowboys led 20-nil at the break. A big improvement on the score-line from the previous weeks clash which seen the Comets down 50-6 at the break.
The Cowboys come on in the second half with Shane Muspratt at five-eighth, Keiren Kerr at half back, David Myles moving to the centres and Rod Jensen moving to the right wing to cover for Neil Sweeney who left the field with a foot injury while for the Comets Mark Henry had come on at fullback.
Four minutes into the second half Hannay backed up a Carl Webb break to score off a Muspratt pass. Bowen converted and the Cowboys led 26-nil.
Muspratt and Myles combined well on the left side with Muspratt throwing a great pass to put Myles into space. Myles went over and the Cowboys led 30-nil after 50 minutes.
In the next ten minutes both teams had their opportunities but once again we seen some great defence from both sides and we went into 3/4 time with the Cowboys 30-nil infront.
The final quarter was the Rod Jensen show with the right side winger picking up three excellent tries. Jensen was strong all match in both defence and attack but really come into his own in the final twenty minutes.
The best of those was in the final minute off a pin point kick from Kerr 40 metres out. Jensen flew down the wing, scooped up the ball inches from the touch line and went over to finish the night on a high for the Cowboys.
New recruit Justin Smith converted one of Jensen's three tries and the Cowboys run out 44-nil winners.
An extremely entertaining match with the Comets showing a lot of ticker. This game could of been 70-nil if the Comets weren't switched on. They have a lot of combinations to work with and were faced with a Cowboys line-up who have been chomping at the bit to get on the field for the last three months.
Bowen, Jensen, Myles, Kerr, Sheppard, Webb and Michael Luck were the pick of the bunch for the Cowboys however considering it was their first outting of the year they could of been a lot worse in regards to drop ball.
Matthew Scott and Jaimon Lowe were solid without being brilliant but you can see they are both going to do their best to have big years and push hard for top grade spots.
It was a wonderful afternoon of rugby league which was shown by a great crowd of 4000. Matt Bowen, Paul Bowman and Paul Rauhihi making the trip was wonderful with the kids absolutely loving the fact they could rub shoulders with Rauhihi, Bowman and especially Matty Bowen.
Congratulations to the Central Queensland Comets and North Queensland Cowboys for delivering a great rugby league spectacle to the fans of Central Queensland.
The Comets QR Development Squad will travel to Bundaberg on the weekend of Saturday, February 19 while the Cowboys will clash with the Cronulla Sharks in Mackay.
New to Harko's Bargain Warehouse this week are "Over To You Blocker" by Steve Roach. Items finishing up in the next few days are "Raging Bull", the 1994 Official Rugby League Yearbook and North Queensland Cowboys collectables. In the coming weeks Harko's Bargain Warehouse will be releasing Central Queensland Comets merchandise and more North Queensland Cowboys collectables. Stay tuned for more.
NORTH QLD COWBOYS 44 Tries: Rod Jensen 3(63rd,75th,79th), Josh Hannay 2(34th,44th), Rory Bromley 1(3rd)Brenton Bowen 1(10th), Carl Webb 1(14th), David Myles 1(50th) Goals: Brenton Bowen 3 from 6, Justin Smith 1 from 3 Team: 1.Brenton Bowen, 2.Rory Bromley, 3.Josh Hannay, 4.Rod Jensen, 5.Neil Sweeney, 6.David Myles, 7.Chris Sheppard(C), 8.Jaiman Lowe, 9.Leigh McWilliams, 10.Matthew Scott, 11.Micheal Luck, 12.Carl Webb, 13.Justin Smith. Bench: 15.Daniel Strickland, 18.Shane Muspratt, 19.Kieran Kerr, 20.Jacob Lillyman defeated CENTRAL COMETS 0 Team: 1.Jimmy McConachy, 2.Ben Hinchliffe, 3.Tui McKenzie, 4.Matt Hill, 5.John Tamanika, 6.Jade Wogand, 7.Aoterangi Herangi, 8.Kurt Cawdron, 9.Mick Esdale, 10.Kane Hardy, 11.David Nixon, 12.Todd Brandon, 13.Herewini Rangi. Bench: 14. Fili Sofa, 15.Tobby Wallace, 16.Trent Callaghan, 17.Adam Geddes, 18.Mark Henry, 19.Trent McKinlay, 20.Damiam Wilkes, 21.John Bidgood, 23.Mitch Wyatte
Venue: Browne Park Date: Sat Feb 12 8:00pm Referee: Steve Kanowski Half time: Cowboys 20-nil First Try: Rory Bromley (3rd minute - Cowboys) Man of the Match: Rod Jensen(Cowboys) Rleague Points: 3-Rod Jensen(Cowboys) 2-Chris Sheppard(Cowboys) 1- Herewini Rangi(Comets) Match Comments: Curtain Raisers: QR Comets Development Squad 40 defeated Mackay Souths Sharks U-19s 10 Comets White 34 defeated Mackay Souths Sharks A-grade 18