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Tigers sealed it late in an absorbing contest which the home side won 26-18 in front of 13,059 fans at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
The billing during the week focused on Thurston v Marshall and it didn't take long for either of them to make their mark in the contest.
Benji Marshall launching one high which was bobbled by Bowen into fellow fullback Tim Moltzen for the latter to score the opening try of the contest. Tigers added a penalty goal in the 8th minute to make it 8-0 early doors.
It took twenty minutes but the Cowboys settled into the contest with some sustained possession. Glenn Hall got their first when they went the repeat play in the same set, catching the Tigers off guard and Hall crossing.
The momentum swung in favour of the Cowboys with Thurston showing his array o passes in sending Antonio Winterstein over for a try, wresting the lead from the Tigers.
Fortune favours the brave and Robbie Farah took a chance to rush up on Thurston who offloaded before he wanted to Bowen who tapped the ball into the hands of Tuiqiri to gift the lead back to Wests going into halftime.
Tigers held the narrow lead after halftime with the game developing into a wrestle but a piece of Marshall brilliance in form of his step to beat the defenders and extend the lead to eight.
North Queensland weren't going away yet though with James Tamou who showed his speed twice this afternoon, once in a chase of Marshall and the second when he streaked away. He set it up for Thurston to give Ashley Graham his 13th try of the season.
Now it was down to whether the Cowboys gamebreakers could find one more opportunity. They probed but the Tigers were resilient, Moltzen scoring in the 78th minute to send the home fans away happy. Tigers winning 26-18
Wests Tigers 26 defeated North Queensland Cowboys 18
National Rugby League - Round 12 - Sunday May 27, 2012 3:00pm
Venue: Campbelltown Sports Stadium
Referee: Ben Cummins and Brett Suttor
Video Referee: Chris Ward
Touch Judges: Ricky Macfarlane and Luke Potter
Halftime: Wests Tigers 14 North Queensland Cowboys 12
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Benji Marshall (1 Try, 4 Conversions, 1 Penalty Goal)
2 Points - James Tamou
1 Point - Johnathan Thurston (3 Conversions)
Wests Tigers (26)
Tries: Benji Marshall, Tim Moltzen (2), Lote Tuqiri
Conversions: Benji Marshall (4/4)
Penalty Goals: Benji Marshall (1/1)
North Queensland Cowboys (18)
Tries: Ashley Graham, Glenn Hall, Antonio Winterstein
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (3/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to sunny Campbelltown for a mouth watering contest today. Wests Tigers hosting North Queensland, Marshall v Thurston is the headline act but both sides have been on a roll recently.
Wests: Liam Fulton is out. Matt Bell starts and Junior Moors goes onto the bench meaning Curtis Sironen will make his debut.
North Queensland: They are 1-17.
North Queensland have capped a remarkable late comeback to steal a 38-36 victory in the Toyota Cup curtain raiser. Earlier Balmain destroyed Wests 88-16 in NSW Cup.
Both sides have hit the field here at Campbelltown. Tigers kick-off and Cowboys will run north to south.
1 min: Moltzen with boot to ball and here we go. Tamou takes the first hit-up.
VIDEO REFEREE: Going upstairs for the first time today.. Tim Moltzen might have the try.
4 min: TRY
The huge bomb from Marshall had rain on it when it landed, bobbled by Bowen into the waiting hands of Moltzen to cross for the benefit of the doubt TRY! Besides the post, Marshall slots it.
Wests Tigers 6-0
4 min: That was dangerous. Benji Marshall is taken late by James Tamou and is a penalty. Tamou is also put on report.
7 min: Farah with a dart from dummy-half on last but he's caught. PENALTY though.. Matt Scott not back on the line.
8 min: PENALTY GOAL
Once Farah is tended to, Tigers come together and opt for the penalty goal. Marshall steps up and smashes it through.
Wests Tigers 8-0
12 min: Pin point from Thurston.. landing it just before the dead ball line for Moltzen to be smashed.
13 min: Penalty North Queensland. Ayshford offside.
14 min: Early tackle kick from Thompson forces Moltzen to bat it dead again. Dropout Wests.
15 min: Matt Scott tried to be a halfback there, looking for support but had to take the hit-up, losing control of the ball.
18 min: Lovely counter attack from the last tackle kick from the Cowboys. The charge caught the Tigers offside.
20 min: TRY
Twice the Cowboys went for the short ball to Hall. First time, he was well held but on the second, he steams through and stretches out for the TRY. Thurston from besides the posts, swings it over.
Wests Tigers 8-6
21 min: Cowboys have ridden the momentum and it has swung in their favour. Penalty here, for the Tigers tacklers being too slow.
23 min: TRY
That was just magical. Thurston waits for the moment.. with the run around and hits Linnett who gives it to Winterstein to stroll in. Thurston continues where he left in origin with a beautiful conversion.
North Queensland Cowboys 12-8
24 min: Dear, oh dear. Tim Moltzen kicks it out on the full.
25 min: Cowboys try to force the pass and it's spilled by Payne.
27 min: North Queensland have dominated possession, so they needed a spark and it came in the form of a 40/20 from Robbie Farah.
28 min: Nice set play from the Tigers but Tim Moltzen with the final ball goes astray.
34 min: Benji Marshall decides to run on the last spying a gap and gives the flick pass to Lote Tuiqiri who spills it.
35 min: Six more for North Queensland after a back pass to himself by Thurston.
VIDEO REFEREE: James Segeyaro might have his first try of the afternoon. Checking a double movement.
36 min: NO TRY! Double movement, there was a hand on him. Penalty Tigers.
37 min: Referee is calling held but Tigers won't let go.. PENALTY.
39 min: TRY
Cowboys trying to attack from their own half is their downfall. They tried quick hands but the flick on only goes into the hands of Lote Tuiqiri who streaks away for an opportunist try. From in front, Marshall slots it.
Wests Tigers 14-12
40 min: HALFTIME. Tigers will take a slim lead after an entertaining first half.
41 min: Here we go for the second half.
43 min: That was a trick shot. Matt Utai ducked out from dummy half and came out the other side. Marshall tries to fire the long pass to Ryan but it goes over the sideline.
47 min: Two great charges from the Cowboys finds space behind the markers. On last Thurston throws a long cut-out to Graham who chips for himself but it's knocked on.
49 min: Another kick which just sits up for Thurston helped by a Moltzen slip to be forced in goal. Dropout.
49 min: Curtis Sironen is on for his debut.
51 min: What a set! The last tackle kick from Thurston sits up for Marshall who is AWAY but he's caught by James Tamou. The end of the set comes when Marshall knocks on into the hands of Sironen.
53 min: Matt Utai steams onto a kick but loses it backwards. He gets lucky when Gavin Cooper is judged to have lost the ball.
55 min: That is harsh. James Tamou was on the trolley going backwards and is pinged for not playing it square.
56 min: Chris Heighington goes close but he's dropped it.. no penalty.
59 min: TRY
Marshall sets up for the long pass like he has all afternoon but not this time. He throws the dummy, goes himself and dives over. He converts his own try to make it an eight point gap.
Wests Tigers 20-12
62 min: Knock on from Beau Ryan. Opportunity for the Cowboys here.
66 min: TRY Northern Storm
James Tamou is through the line, swatting away defenders and into the clear. He puts a nice step on Moltzen but he's caught by Tuiqiri. Next tackle, Thurston to Bowen to Graham.. TRY! Thurston from near the sideline, doesn't miss.
Wests Tigers 20-18
68 min: Cowboys were pinned back.. they needed that penalty. Heighington not being onside.
69 min: Knock on Cowboys.. Thompson throws it to a player already through the line thus a knock on.
70 min: Tigers get six more from Segeyaro touching it.
71 min: Marshall to Heighington.. he's through. No, Bowen holds him up.
72 min: Bit of a mess on last. Matt Utai gets his foot to the ball and Matt Bowen is caught in goal.
73 min: Six more again. Cowboys will have to defend well to hold the Tigers out.
VIDEO REFEREE: Checking if Farah has scored, might be a knock on.
73 min: NO TRY! Farah knocked it on.
76 min: Cowboys try quick hands again.. INTERCEPT! Lawrence has the ball and then finds the Cowboys offside.
78 min: TRY
Marshall goes down his favoured left.. waited until the right moment and gave it to Moltzen who just goes through for the match winner, much like last weekend. Converted.
Wests Tigers 26-18
80 min: FULLTIME! Tigers win an absorbing contest.