Roosters hang on in Townsville

They were pushed all the way but the Sydney Roosters again underlined their premiership credentials with a professional, hard-fought 12-8 victory over the North Qld Cowboys in front of 13,660 fans at a very wet 1300Smiles Stadium tonight.

Constant rain fell throughout the entire match - which wasn't decided until the 80th minute - when a miracle play from the Cowboys almost snatched victory, with winger Ash Graham going within centimetres of pulling in Matt Bowen's cross-field kick to the corner.

Roosters players, officials and supporters had a nervous 60-second wait after referee Ashley Klein referred the decision to the video referee before the correct call was made and the red lights flashed on the big screen.

The win consolidated the Roosters' position in the top two, keeping frontrunners and arch-rivals South Sydney in their sights, while North Queensland languish in 12th position - two points outside the top eight.

It was the second successive week where the boys from Bondi Junction built their victory on a near-impenetrable defence.

The Roosters were again involved in an opening half of footy where points were hard to come by. Just the two tries were scored in the first 40 minutes, with Anthony Minichiello opening the scoring in the 23rd minute before Robert Lui, returning from injury, crossed for the Cowboys first points in the 32nd minute.

Minichiello ghosted his way through the Cowboys defence following a clever decoy play from Sonny Bill Williams before halfback Mitchell Pearce found Minichiello wrapping around the back. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, centre Kane Linnett slipped over in the greasy conditions which opened up the gap for the Roosters custodian to score out wide.

Lui took advantage of some tiring Roosters defence 10 minutes later when he reached out to score despite James Maloney hanging off his legs. It was the fourth successive set of six where the Roosters were camped on their own try-line. Rory Kostjasyn jumped out of dummy half before his pass to Lui put him on the outside of his opposite number.

The Cowboys had almost 60% of possession in the opening 40 but it was the Roosters defence which again kept them in the contest at the break.

The second stanza followed a similar script to the first with just the one try scored – through Roosters second-rower Mitch Aubusson after a sublime Mitchell Pearce cut-out pass in the 65th minute. That followed two Johnathan Thurston penalty goals which put the hosts in front 8-6 with 20 minutes left to play.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck almost sealed the result in the 73rd minute, but much like Graham’s attempt in the shadows of full-time he couldn’t quite drag in a bouncing ball in the slippery conditions.

Cowboys coach Neil Henry was buoyed by the performance of his side and said "I can't fault the effort, but we squandered some opportunities. We can compete with the big sides in the competition", but centre Brent Tate told Fox Sports after the game that it was frustrating not being able to come up with consistent performances week-to-week.

Next week the Cowboys travel to Leichhardt to tackle the struggling Tigers while the Roosters will again face tough opposition when the Melbourne Storm travel to Allianz Stadium next Saturday evening.

Match Details
North Queensland Cowboys 8 Sydney Roosters 12
Venue: Willows Sports Complex
Crowd: 13660
Halftime Score: Sydney Roosters 6-4 Players of the Match:
3 points - Mitchell Pearce
2 points - Johnathan Thurston
1 point - Boyd Cordner

Tries: Robert Lui
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (0/1)
Penalty Goals: Johnathan Thurston (2/2)

Tries: Anthony Minichiello, Mitchell Aubusson
Conversions: James Maloney (2/2) Live Commentary

Cowboys: 1. Matthew Bowen 2. Ashley Graham 3. Brent Tate 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Johnathan Thurston (c) 19. Robert Lui 8. Matthew Scott (c) 9. Rory Kostjasyn 10. James Tamou 11. Tariq Sims 12. Gavin Cooper 13. Dallas Johnson
Interchange: 7. Ray Thompson 15. Glenn Hall 16. Ashton Sims 17. Scott Bolton 18. Jason Taumalolo

Roosters: 1. Anthony Minichiello (c) 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Michael Jennings 4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 6. James Maloney 7. Mitchell Pearce 17.Luke O'Donnell 9. Jake Friend 10. Martin Kennedy 11. Mitchell Aubusson 12. Sonny Bill Williams 13. Boyd Cordner
Interchange: 14. Daniel Mortimer 15. Frank Paul Nuuausala 16. Aidan Guerra 20. Lama Tasi
Good evening footy fans and welcome to tropical North Queensland for tonight's Round 10 encounter between the home side and the Roosters. It's a typically warm, humid evening for footy with intermittent showers expected throughout tonight.
TEAM CHANGES for the Roosters - Luke O'Donnell will start at prop for the suspended Jared Waerea-Hargreaves with Lama Tasi to come onto the bench.
When we have confirmation of the Cowboys side, we will have it here!
TEAM CHANGES for the Cowboys - Robert Lui returns at halfback with Ray Thompson dropping back to the bench alongside Ashton Sims, Glenn Hall and Scott Bolton. Scott Moore drops off.
In the Holden Cup curtain raiser the Roosters lead 16-10 with 14 minutes remaining.
Fulltime in the Holden Cup and the Roosters have run out 24-14 victors over the Cowboys. First grade scheduled for kick-off at around 7.35pm.
We're underway! The Roosters will have first use of the ball and will defend the northern end (or left hand side of your computer screen) of 1300Smiles Stadium.
1 min: Charge down from the Cowboys off Maloney's kick!
2 min: Thurston kicks well into the in-goal and Kenny-Dowall slides back to force the ball. Roosters dropout.
4 min: Lui tries to trickle a kick in behind the defence but Maloney puts his leg in the way and dives on the loose ball.
4 min: PENALTY Roosters. Tamou ruled to have taken O'Donnell high with a hint of a grapple.
5 min: PENALTY Roosters. Two in the tackle and the ball comes free.
5 min: Tupou tries to dive over in the corner but Graham bundles him into touch.
6 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Hand in the play-the-ball. In back play, Williams is being attended to by a trainer. Might have gotten a finger in the eye.
7 min: Kostjasyn knocks on from dummy half.
7 min: Tamou and O'Donnell again clash in back play, these two will be at it all night.
7 min: Tamou and O'Donnell again clash in back play, these two will be at it all night.
8 min: Graham takes Pearce's bomb very well despite being under heavy attention.
10 min: Pearce hit in a great hit from Sims! But credit to the halfback, he bounced straight back to his feet.
11 min: The Cowboys run the ball on the last and the tackle is effected on the Roosters 40m line. Changeover.
12 min: Jennings grubber trickles dead. Cowboys 20m restart.
13 min: Thurston has his kick charged down by Williams and despite getting six again the Qld five-eighth knocks on.
14 min: Williams offload finds Cordner who was through the hole but the pass was ruled forward. Cowboys scrum.
16 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Cordner goes straight back over the top of Tamou and through the ruck. Cowboys on the attack.
17 min: Grubber from Thurston and Minichiello is forced in the in-goal. Roosters dropout.
19 min: PENALTY Roosters. Kenny-Dowall hit in a shoulder charge from Winterstein after scooping up Bowen's grubber in his in-goal.
20 min: Kennedy puts the ball down on tackle two. Cowboys again on the attack.
20 min: Lui kicks towards Tupou on the last and Graham bats the ball dead. Roosters 20m restart.
21 min: Pearce kicks for Jennings who was flying through but Bowen won the race to the ball and forced it. Cowboys dropout.
Scored by Anthony Minichiello. Conversion attempt by James Maloney successful.
Minichiello opens the scoring after a second-man play puts him into space. His cause was helped by the fact Linnett slipped over. Maloney adds the extras from out wide.
Sydney Roosters 6-0
27 min: Good hit from Cooper jolts the ball loose from Williams grasp.
27 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Kenny-Dowall with a lazy high tackle.
28 min: Thurston again forces a repeat set. Roosters dropout.
30 min: Thurston got around Maloney before lobbing a pass intended for Graham which is touched by Tupou and into touch. Cowboys scrum.
31 min: The Cowboys again had the numbers, this time on the left, but the Roosters get a hand to the ball which goes over the sideline. Cowboys scrum.
32 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Hand in the play-the-ball.
Scored by Robert Lui. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston unsuccessful.
Finally the pressure pays off for the Cowboys. Kostjasyn's pass from dummy half put Lui on the outside of Maloney before he reached out to score out wide. Thurston can't add the extras from out near the sideline as the rain pours down.
Sydney Roosters 6-4
38 min: Great take from Tupou off Thurston's kick.
40 min: Mortimer finds touch 10m from the Cowboys line.
40 min: Halftime in Townsville and the Roosters lead the home side 6-4 in an enthralling game of rugby league.
41 min: Back underway for the second stanza. Rain still steadily falling. Roosters to get us going again.
42 min: Mistake free in the second stanza from both sides.
45 min: Scrappy play after Thurston's kick is knocked back by the Roosters on their own line, before the Cowboys knock on and the Roosters charge up field.
46 min: Roosters charge upfield after Tuivasa-Sheck raced 70m. Roosters on the attack.
46 min: Maloney appears to have lost the ball in the tackle but the referees say otherwise.
48 min: Pearce goes wide with a ball intended for Kenny-Dowall but it goes in touch. Cowboys scrum.
49 min: Lui finds touch 5m from the Roosters line. Great set off their own line from the Cowboys.
521 min: Great kick from Thurston is perfectly weighted. Roosters dropout.
53 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Roosters offside.
Penalty goal attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Thurston adds the extras from 20m in from touch. We're all locked up in Townsville.
6 all
56 min: Lui's innocuous kick is put down by Tupou! Cowboys on the attack.
57 min: The Cowboys go to their right side of defence and Lui's short ball to Sims is put down. Roosters scrum.
58 min: Kennedy knocks on in the play-the-ball. Another chance for the Cowboys.
60 min: Bowen kicks on the last and the ball pings around before the Cowboys get six more.
60 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Maloney with the leg pull.
Penalty goal attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Thurston adds the two from right in front and the Cowboys are in front for the first time tonight.
North Queensland Cowboys 8-6
63 min: Pearce's kick is ruled to have been knocked on by Graham. Roosters on the attack now.
Scored by Mitchell Aubusson. Conversion attempt by James Maloney successful.
What a ball from Mitchell Pearce! He engaged the Cowboys defence and delivered a perfectly timed pass to Aubusson who ran a perfect line on the outside shoulder of Robert Lui. He goes over untouched. Maloney adds the extras from 20m in from touch.
Sydney Roosters 12-8
68 min: Tupou knocks on after Maloney's kick is partially smothered.
72 min: Thompson loses the ball cold in the play-the-ball. Big chance for the Roosters to put the result beyond doubt here.
73 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Roosters try.
73 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Roosters try.
73 min: No Try. Tuivasa-Sheck has this one denied by the video referee after knocking on in the process of grounding the ball. Cowboys 20m restart.
74 min: Winterstein knocks on at dummy half just as Thurston was about to go to the air across field. Changeover.
75 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Friend knocks Bowen to the ground as he attempted to get to his feet.
78 min: Catch-up footy from the Cowboys concludes with a knock-on from Tamou. Roosters scrum.
79 min: Maloney chip-chases but the ball won't sit and he knocks on.
79 min: Double knock-on. Cowboys scrum.
80 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Ball raked out as Tamou and O'Donnell renew acquaintances.
80 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Roosters offside.
80 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Cowboys try.
80 min: No Try. Graham can't quite get a grab on the ball and the Roosters hang on.
80 min: Fulltime in Townsville and the Roosters have defeated the Cowboys 12-8.