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The Sydney Roosters have fought back from 20-10 down at halftime to run out 32-20 victors over the North Queensland Cowboys at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
Mitchell Pearce scored a hattrick for the away team to ensure the Cowboys losing streak continues as it has now hit a record thirteen matches.
The Roosters opened the scoring through Pearce and all looked as if it would go to script but an enthusiastic Cowboys side, lifted by the return of Luke O'Donnell, stunned their more fancied opponents with a four-try first half barage.
Tries to Weston, Henry, O'Donnell and Ty Williams had the home crowd buzzing as the ultimate upset was on the cards.
A different Roosters team returned from the sheds in the second half as they looked to wake from their slumber and start to lift their intensity. They did just that in the 46th minute when Pearce went over for his second in what is a candidate for team try of the season as the ball went through six sets of hands. The ball was worked from the left side of the Roosters try line as it travelled through several sets of hands before Amos Roberts burnt around Mark Henry on the right wing and drew Ash Graham at fullback for Pearce to back up and run 20m to score.
The Cowboys had the chance to hit straight back as they forced a Goal-line Dropout but the Pearce try seemed to lift the Tri-Colours as they were able to hold out a Cowboys raid.
The Roosters come back continued as they took the lead in the 52nd minute as a Braith Anasta bomb fell into the hands of Mitchell Pearce for the young halfback to touch down and claim his first hattrick in the NRL.
The Roosters were untroubled from then on and Willie Mason took advantage of some tired defence to bump off two tacklers and go over under the posts with ten minutes to go. Amos Roberts finished off the come-from-behind win for the Roosters as he sped past his opposite man in Ty Williams to collect a Mitchell Pearce grubber in the final minute of the game.
Craig Fitzgibbon was the best for the Roosters as he put in a monster performance whilst Lopini Paea came off the bench and wreaked havoc as he took the ball up with venom. Special mention to all the try-scorers for the Roosters who all had great games. For the Cowboys Aaron Payne provided the home sides attacking spark as he made good inroads from dummy half whilst Carl Webb and Luke O'Donnell were strong in defence and attack.
The win sees the Roosters stay in third position and move five points clear of fifth whilst the Cowboys remain in last place and two wins away from their next opponents the Bulldogs.
In further bad news for the North Queensland team Luke O'Donnell's return from a seven-game suspension appears to be short-lived after he was assisted from the field in the 79th minute with what appeared to be a serious shoulder injury.
Match Details Sydney Roosters 32 def North Queensland Cowboys 20 Round 21 - Saturday August 2nd, 2008 7:30pm Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium Referee: Sean Hampstead Touch Judges: Dan Eastwood, Jeff Younis Video Referee: Tim Mander Halftime: Cowboys 20 Roosters 10 North Queensland Cowboys 20 Tries: Dayne Weston, Mark Henry, Luke O'Donnell, Ty Williams Goals: John Williams (2/4) Sydney Roosters 32 Tries: Mitchell Pearce (3), Mitchell Aubusson, Willie Mason, Amos Roberts Goals: Craig Fitzgibbon (3/5), Amos Roberts (1/1) LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Craig Fitzgibbon (Roosters) 2 Points: Mitchell Pearce (Roosters) 1 Point: Aaron Payne (Cowboys)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Welcome to tonight's clash between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Sydney Roosters at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
Only a few minor changes for this match;
For the Cowboys George Gatis is out which means Dayne Weston will start in the hooking role whilst Luke Harlen moves from the extended bench into the squad.
For the Roosters Mickey Paea and James Aubusson come onto the bench with Shane Shackleton and and Jake Friend being omitted.
Following these changes the teams will line up as such:
COWBOYS: 1. Ash Graham 2. Ty Williams 3. Mark Henry 4. Ben Harris 5. John Williams 6. Travis Burns 7. Aaron Payne 8. Carl Webb 15. Dayne Weston 10. Shane Tronc 11. Luke O'Donnell 12. Sione Faumuina 13. Steve Southern Interchange: 14. Ben Farrar 16. Ben Vaeau 17. Ray Cashmere 18. Luke Harlen
ROOSTERS: 1. Brent Grose 2. Amos Roberts 3. Mitchell Aubusson 4. Sia Soliola 5. Sam Perrett 6. Braith Anasta 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Mark O'Meley 9. Riley Brown 10. David Shillington 11. Willie Mason 12. Anthony Tupou 13. Craig Fitzgibbon Interchange: 14. Lopini Paea 16. Anthony Cherrington 18. Mickey Paea 20. James Aubusson
Coming into the round the Roosters sit in third place and will be looking to cement their place in the Top 4 with a win. Whilst the Cowboys sit in dead last and have the difficult task of trying to avoid the wooden spoon.
For the Roosters Craig Fitzgibbon plays his 200th First Grade game whilst for the Cowboys Luke O'Donnell returns after a seven game suspension.
Players coming onto the field now as we are about to get underway. Warm conditions for the match and fatigue could come into play late in the match.
1 min: KICKOFF: Underway here at Dairy Farmers stadium as the Roosters have the first use of the football.
8 min: TRY Sydney Roosters Braith Anasta steps off his left foot and runs hard at the line to make a half-break and provides a beautiful offload inside to Mitchell Pearce who steps hard himself and goes over for the Roosters to open the scoring. Conversion attempt by Craig Fitzgibbon successful. Sydney Roosters 6-0
10 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Aaron Payne makes a good dart and Tupou is penalised for holding him down at the play-the-ball.
11 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Dayne Weston hits a good short ball from Carl Webb at pace and goes over for his first career try. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful. 6 all
Already a good battle developing between potential heavy-weights Carl Webb and Willie Mason.
14 min: Amos Roberts makes a break down the wing and is tackled just two metres from the line.
15 min: Ashley Graham knocks-on from an Anasta grubber on the last tackle. Mitchell Pearce then throws a forward pass as he tries to force the issue in attack. Cowboys scrum 10m from their line.
17 min: Anasta kicks dead from inside his 40m line and the Cowboys have a 20m tap. The Roosters are being matched in intensity by the Cowboys in the opening quarter of this match.
18 min: Amos Roberts intercepts the ball but is immediately grabbed and is bundled into touch on a second movement. Roosters unlucky there, Cowboys scrum on halfway.
20 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Mark Henry attacks a Travis Burns chip and comes up with the prize as he outleaps Sam Perrett to go over for a try. Conversion attempt by John Williams unsuccessful. North Queensland Cowboys 10-6
22 min: Ashley Graham makes a break through the centre and the Cowboys right on the attack.
24 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Cross-field bomb from Burns to the left wing, several players contest the ball and it is knocked backwards for O'Donnell to jump on the scraps. Video Referee Tim Mander awards the try and the Cowboys go back-to-back. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful. North Queensland Cowboys 16-6
The Roosters look shocked here as they are being completely out-enthused.
28 min: Willie Mason busts straight through the guts and runs 40m. Roosters on the attack.
29 min: TRY Sydney Roosters Braith Anasta shows great vision and throws a beautiful cut-out pass for Mitchell Aubusson to go over for the Roosters untouched. Conversion attempt by Craig Fitzgibbon unsuccessful. North Queensland Cowboys 16-10
32 min: PENALTY Cowboys. James Aubusson is ruled to have performed a Grapple tackle on the Cowboys last tackle. Cowboys have a tap 15m out.
33 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys The Cowboys shift it left and Mark Henry gets an offload out the back at the line for Ty Williams to score. Conversion attempt by John Williams unsuccessful. North Queensland Cowboys 20-10
All four tries for the Cowboys have come off the back of Roosters penalties. Poor discipline from the Tri-Colours.
38 min: PENALTY Roosters. Sydney get their first penalty after a strip in the play-the-ball.
38 min: Anthony Tupou loses the ball close to the line as he tried to push away from defenders.
40 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Cowboys tap on halfway and they have one play left before halftime.
HALFTIME: The North Queensland Cowboys lead the Sydney Roosters 20-10 at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
46 min: TRY Sydney Roosters Candidate for try of the season. It starts with Sam Perrett on the left hand side as he takes the ball from dummy-half and runs at markers offside. The ball shifts right through several sets of hands for Mitchell Aubusson to get outside of his man and get the ball onto Amos Roberts. Roberts burns through centre and winger to draw the fullback and give the ball to Mitchell Pearce to score a 100m team try. Conversion attempt by Craig Fitzgibbon successful. North Queensland Cowboys 20-16
48 min: Lopini Paea breaks straight through off the kick off and the Roosters are firing up here.
49 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Roosters players ruled offside from a Cowboys scrum. Cowboys tap 40m from the Roosters line.
50 min: Goal-line Drop Out Roosters. Video Referee Mander rules Mitch Aubusson to have grounded the ball in-goal and the Cowboys earn a drop-out.
51 min: PENALTY Roosters. O