The Warriors have held out the Cowboys in a closely contested match with a 20 - 18 victory in front of 10, 572 fans at Mt. Smart Stadium.
In what turned out to be quite a physical game, the Warriors were able to hold out the Cowboys despite losing players throughout the course of the game. Dane Nielsen was the first off with a rib cartilage problem, Kevin Locke left the field with 10 minutes to go and Ben Henry was taken off with a concussion.
The Cowboys were first on the scoring sheet when Fai Fai Loa went over the line in acrobatic style as far into the corner as he could have. Thurston converted to give them an early 6 point lead after 10 minutes. Just two minutes later the Warriors gave away a penalty right in front and Thurston again kicked the ball through the posts to make it 8 - 0.
After 22 minutes the Cowboys capitalised on a massive overlap in the Warriors defence to see Brent Tate cruise over the line for the Cowboys second. Thurston missed the conversion and they were now two converted tried in front.
Shaun Johnson managed to kick his third 40/20 in 4 weeks in the 32nd minute to give the Warriors great field position. After 39 minutes the Warriors were able to get the ball back from a Johnson bomb and send Elijah Taylor in for a try to the right of the posts. Johnson converted the try and the score stood at 12 - 6 which ended up as the half time score. Both teams were still in the game at the halfway point and it was left to who wanted it most in the second.
Right from the kick off of the second half the Warriors were on the charge. It took only 4 minutes for the Warriors to score with Johnson crossing for a great individual try stepping Cowboys defenders left and right. he converted his own try to take the scores to 12 - 12.
In the 54th minute, the Warriors crossed for their third try, and took the lead in the game for the first time. Leuluai passed the ball to Hurrell who angled back in and crashed over a number of defenders to score on the right of the posts. Johnson in fine form again converted the try to take the scores to 18 - 12.
The Warriors got a penalty in the 72nd minute close to the Cowboys line, but at an angle to the posts. Johnson took the oppotunity to take the lead beyond a converted try with a successful kick at goal to make the score 20-12.
A late surge and receiving the ball from their own short kick off, the Cowboyswere able to score a try to Winterstein in the 19th minute in the far corner. Thurston converted the kick to take the scores to 20 - 18.
The Warriors had less than 2 minutes to hold on and went to the long kick option. The Cowboys received the ball and went wide to Tate who knocked the ball on attempting a pass to Fai Fai Loa, and the siren sounded.
The Warriors will be able to celebrate a win tonight for the first time in 2013, which is sure to take some pressure off Mat Elliot. They will need to take the confidence of this win into round 5, as they face the Rabbitohs on Sunday afternoon at home. The Cowboys play at home in a short turnaround against the Panthers on Saturday night.
New Zealand Warriors 20 North Queensland Cowboys 18
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Crowd: 10 572
Halftime Score: Cowboys - 12-6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Simon Mannering
2 points - Bill Tupou
1 point - Shaun Johnson
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS (20)
Tries: Shaun Johnson, Elijah Taylor, Konrad Hurrell
Conversions: Shaun Johnson (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Shaun Johnson (1/1)
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (18)
Tries: Kalifa Fai Fai Loa, Brent Tate, Antonio Winterstein
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Johnathan Thurston (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
North Queensland Cowboys 6-0
North Queensland Cowboys 8-0
North Queensland Cowboys 12-0
North Queensland Cowboys 12-6
New Zealand Warriors 18-12
New Zealand Warriors 20-12
New Zealand Warriors 20-18