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The Warriors stayed within reach of the Cowboys at Mt Smart until the last ten minutes this afternoon, three late tries blowing the score out to 34-12.
Johnathan Thurston once more demonstrated why he is frequently labeled the world's best player, leading the stats in both attack and defence and orchestrating the Cowboys' 5th win this season.
The Warriors, sporting freshly shaved heads in honour of Jesse Royal's son, opened the scoring in the 4th minute with a penalty goal. Four minutes later O'Donnell was in for the day's first try and from that point on the lead stayed with the Cowboys.
Thurston struggled with his kicking game at times in the first half, having to contend with a stiff Auckland breeze. He had no problems running however and side-stepped his way to a try in the 30th minute. The score remained 10-2 going into halftime.
During the break the rain appeared at Mt Smart and it stayed for the rest of the match. This was expected to work in the Warriors' favour and indeed it appeared to be when Nathan Fien closed the gap to two points in the 46th minute. Five minutes later though it was 16-8, Tonga picking up a fortuitous try from a rebounded Thurston grubber.
Referee Cummins followed through on his threats to sin-bin, sending James Tamou away for not getting out of the ruck fast enough in the 57th minute. The Warriors only took four points from their one man advantage however, Kemp making it 16-12 going into the last quarter.
The Cowboys confidence jumped and they cemented their victory with three tries in five minutes. Graham, Farrar and Bowen added their names to the scorecard and Thurston, showing off, converted all three to make the final score 34-12.
Next week the Warriors head to Canberra while the Cowboys will host the Knights on Monday night.
Match Details North Queensland Cowboys 34 def New Zealand Warriors 12 Round 10 - Sunday :: May 17th, 2009 2:00pm Venue: Mt Smart Stadium Referee: Ben Cummins & Alan Shortall Sideline Officials: Gavin Morris & Daniel Eastwood Video Referee: Phil Cooley Crowd: 16,345 Halftime: Cowboys 10-2
New Zealand Warriors 12 Tries: Nathan Fien, Denan Kemp Goals: Denan Kemp (2/3) North Queensland Cowboys 34 Tries: Luke O'Donnell, Johnathan Thurston, Willie Tonga, Ashley Graham, Ben Farrar, Matt Bowen Goals: Johnathan Thurston (5/6)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary WARRIORS: 1. Wade McKinnon 2. Denan Kemp 3. Joel Moon 4. Jerome Ropati 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Nathan Fien 7. Stacey Jones 15. Russell Packer 9. Ian Henderson 10. Steve Price 11. Simon Mannering 12. Jacob Lillyman 13. Micheal Luck Interchange: 8. Sam Rapira 14. Lance Hohaia 17. Ben Matulino 21. Lewis Brown COWBOYS: 1. Matthew Bowen 2. Ben Farrar 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: 15. Steve Southern 16. Antonio Kaufusi 17. James Tamou 20. Anthony Watts
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TAB Sportsbet Odds: Warriors $1.45 Cowboys $2.65
Toyota Cup:Warriors 41 Cowboys 16
League Unlimited Poll: Warriors 72% Cowboys 28%
Last Meeting: 2008 Round 18 Warriors 24 Cowboys 14
Auckland Weather at 12pm: Temperature: 20