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St George Illawarra have risen back to the top of the NRL table after a powerhouse 32-18 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys. The afternoon however was soured by a rib injury to Cowboys fullback Matthew Bowen.
The Dragons began the match amazingly with a quick try to leading try scorer Brett Morris and nearly scored a second just moments later. A Ben Creagh offload enabled Matt Cooper to give the Dragons a 12-0 lead after just 12 minutes.
The Cowboys began to come back into the match, highlighted by a good kicking game. A passing set in the 24th minute saw Ty Williams get the Cowboys on the board but Dragon Ben Creagh spoiled the moment, breaking the line to score and give the Dragons a 18-6 half-time lead.
The Cowboys did start the second half better with Origin second rower Luke O'Donnell scoring after a powerful Carl Webb run. Matthew Bowen nearly got the Cowboys back into the match with a solo effort. In a horrible moment for the Cowboys the try was denied and popular Bowen was injured.
The Dragons crowd booed Bowen whilst he was down, but settled when he was being taken off the field with a suspected broken rib. The Cowboys however lifted their game which resulted in a spectacular solo effort by possible Origin II centre Willie Tonga to set the margin back to two.
With little time left however the Cowboys got desperate and Brett Morris went straight through to send Matt Cooper over to extend the lead. After a kick-off out on the full by Thurston and a dropped ball, Jamie Soward stole the show, sealing up the match with a trademark runaway try.
Match Details St George Illawarra Dragons 32 vs North Queensland Cowboys 18 Round 14 - Sunday June 14th, 2009 3:00pm Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong Referee: Tony Archer & Matt Cecchin Touch Judges: Steve Carrall & Paul Holland Video Referee: Tim Mander Crowd: 11,374 Half time: Dragons 18-6 St George Illawarra Dragons 32 Tries: Brett Morris, Matt Cooper (2), Ben Creagh, Jamie Soward Field Goals: Ben Hornby (0/1) Goals: Jamie Soward (6/6) North Queensland Cowboys 18 Tries: Ty Williams, Luke O'Donnell, Willie Tonga Goals: Johnathan Thurston (3/3) LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Matt Cooper (Dragons) 2 Points: Brett Morris (Dragons) 1 Point: Aaron Payne (Cowboys)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about the game as it happens - Dragons v Cowboys forum discussion - click here!
DRAGONS: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Brett Morris 3. Beau Scott 4. Matt Cooper 5. Wendell Sailor 6. Jamie Soward 7. Ben Hornby (c) 8. Justin Poore 9. Dean Young 10. Michael Weyman 11. Jarrod Saffy 12. Ben Creagh 13. Neville Costigan Interchange: 14. Dan Hunt 15. Mickey Paea 16. Jason Nightingale 17. Mathew Head; Reserves: 18. Luke Priddis 19. Chase Stanley COWBOYS: 1. Matthew Bowen 2. Ty Willaims 3. Ashley Graham 4. Willie Tonga 5. John Williams 6. Travis Burns 7. Johnathan Thurston (c) 8. Shane Tronc 9. Aaron Payne 10. Matthew Scott 11. Carl Webb 12. Scott Bolton 13. Luke O'Donnell Interchange: 14. Steve Rapira 15. Grant Rovelli 16. Antonio Kaufusi 17. Manase Manuokafoa; Reserves: 18. Steve Southern 19. James Tamou 20. Anthony Watts
Welcome to Wollongong where it overcast and rain is falling.
Both teams as per the top 17. A positional change for the Cowboys with Webb dropping to the bench and Southern being promoted to the run-on side.
Rain has eased just before kick off, good crowd on hand. Teams getting ready to come onto the field.
North Queensland Cowboys kick off and the game is underway...
3 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Brett Morris scores after a set piece out wide and a two man overlap. Matt Cooper down the left flank and delivers a perfect pass to Morris and the Dragons draw first blood. Conversion attempt 15m wide by Jamie Soward successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 6-0
6 min: Dragons halfback Ben Hornby breaks the line and makes plenty of yards before the play breaks down. Omnious signs for the Cowboys early on.
8 min: Cowboys on the attack and held out by some desperate defence from fullback Darius Boyd. Cowboys get a penalty and repeat set.
9 min: Dragons defend well and a last tackle option from Cowboys goes dead. Saints off the hook.
11 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Cooper scores after receiving a trademark offload from backrower Ben Creagh. Cooper steps and gets across the line. Conversion attempt by Soward successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 12-0
18 min: Cowboys getting a little more ball and getting all their completions in, but the Saints line holds firm. Another Cowboys raid before a fourth tackle kick goes dead again. Possession favouring Dragons 54%.
24 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Ty Williams scores out wide after a misread in defence from Wendell Sailor. Try set up with a good piece of hands, Willie Tonga delivering the final pass. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 12-6
25 min: Posession now dead even at 50/50.
30 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Ben Creagh scores after hitting a gap on the burst down the right side. A defender slips and Creagh just ploughs through following one arm pass from Soward. Conversion attempt by Soward successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 18-6
35 min: Great defensive set from the Dragons pinning the Cowboys down in their own 10m zone. Thurston kicks and only gets the ball about 25m out from the Cowboys' goal line. Dragons with the scrum feed.
37 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons Hornby with an easy shot at one-pointer, but no dice. Cowboys off the hook. St George Illawarra Dragons 18-6
39 min: Cowboys on the attack but pass from Thurston to Tonga is ruled forward.
Half time: Dragons 18-6 Dragons looking the goods and getting most of their opportunities just wide of the ruck on their left side. Ben Creagh in particular giving the defence plenty of grief while Jamie Soward and Ben Hornby are providing great service. Still plenty of football left and the Cowboys playing some very tidy football, although it appears that they would have to be the next side to score to stay in the match. Possession favouring Saints by a little over 50%. Completion impressive from both teams.
The Dragons have kicked off the second half and we're underway again.
41 min: Thurston attempts an early 40/20 but to no avail. The Dragons to dig it out from their own line now.
44 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys After a great run by Carl Webb, Thurston gets the ball from dummy half to Luke O'Donnell who scores the try that might get the Cowboys right back in this match. A great run from big Webb who nearly scored himself. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 18-12
47 min: The Dragons go a series of offloads, Hornby nearly got a great ball away. Soward put the bomb up which went well out on the full.
49 min: Penalty goes to the Dragons and it looks like they will shoot for two, which would give the Dragons an eight point lead.
51 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons Soward was never going to miss this one, they have extended the lead with a very important two pointer. St George Illawarra Dragons 20-12
53 min: Head nearly scores, Soward passed the ball to Sailor but a Cowboy intercepted the ball, knocking it on.
54 min: Cooper kept going to the side nearly going all the way but is eventually pushed over into touch on the first tackle.
55 min: VIDEO REFEREE Possible North Queensland Cowboys try Watts throws the dummy and goes through the line with a good run. The last tackle option saw Bowen grubber the ball and attempt to gather the ball.
55 min: No try, the call is Bowen to have knocked it on, which has proven quite an unpopular decision with the Cowboys supporters here.
58 min: Soward from dummy half and he goes away again, attempting to get away from Bowen and the ball ends up in touch. Good work from the Cowboys fullback there.
61 min: A good hit on Thurston spills the ball. Dragons will go on the attack 35 out from the line.
62 min: The kick from Head was a good one and Bowen is unable to get back in the field of play. He is also down after being hit.
62 min: The Dragons fans boo angrily whilst Bowen is down. The drop out is taking place and Bowen is stumbling. Poore has dropped the ball from the drop out, getting the Cowboys out of trouble for now.
64 min: Bowen is coming off whilst the Dragons intercept the ball. The crowd has calmed down now after they assumed he was feigning injury.
66 min: Injury update - Bowen has a suspected broken rib.
68 min: Cooper and Morris perform a try-saving tackle on Burns to prevent a Cowboys try.
70 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Willie Tonga has done no harm to his Origin chances there. He goes through a tackle and breaks his way through another, throwing a dummy to Sailor during the movement. A good run from Payne setting the field position up. This will be a tight final few minutes. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 20-18
73 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Morris goes straight through once again through dummy-half, gets the ball to Cooper and that'll be one heck of a blow to the Cowboys! Superb work by the leading try scorer of the season and this left side has worked beautifully there. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 26-18
74 min: The kick off from Thurston has sailed out on the full. Desperation has clocked the Cowboys skipper, who was attempting to bounce it out to touch. The Dragons will go on the attack once more.
75 min: Soward knocks it on, ending what was a great attempt for the Dragons. The Cowboys will start 20 out from their own line, basically needing to score this set.
77 min: VIDEO REFEREE Possible St George Illawarra Dragons try The Cowboys lose the ball and Soward toes it ahead, gets the perfect bounce and wins the race to the line. They will be going upstairs still.
77 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Game over. Soward does it all himself with that try, showing plenty of pace. That'll be the icing on the cake, the desperation from the Cowboys helping that try being set up. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 32-18
78 min: Soward tries the chip and chase and wins the race. He passes it to Boyd who is racing to the line. In the end Graham gets the kick. Good looking football from the Dragons.
79 min: Boyd goes through a handful of Cowboys defenders. Hornby and Morris make breaking runs in what is fast becoming yet another strong set of six. Here they come again!
Full time: Dragons 32-18 Dragons held off a resistant Cowboys but when the visitors began to look desperate the Dragons continually pounded. The injury to Matt Bowen adds insult to injury for the Cowboys. It was a great Sunday of football, the Dragons will be happy to get back to the winners circle. That is it for Sunday afternoon football, enjoy the rest of your weekend.