Canberra Raiders made it three victories on the trot with a tense 14-12 result against a tough North Queensland Cowboys side tonight in Townsville.
In a weekend filled with upsets, this loomed as another for long periods. The Raiders dug deep, did enough through tries to George Williams and Curtis Scott were able to repel the Cowboys in a tight contest and moved into fifth position, headed towards October.
At full-time, Ricky Stuart almost looked like the losing coach. The Raiders weren't at their fluid best. The ball felt like a cake of soap and the 22 errors showed that from both sides as they had to show courage to take two points.
It was the organisation from George Williams, footwork from John Bateman and maverick play from fill-in fullback Jordan Rapana which helped the Raiders over the line. Williams backed up perfectly to support a flying Nick Cotric to make it 6-6.
The Cowboys have been accused of lacking effort in some contests this season, but not tonight. The home side shocked the Raiders, scoring through what is now becoming a trademark from Reece Robson at dummy-half. A set piece which sent the hulking Jason Taumalolo across briefly gave them a 12-8 lead.
Whilst there were positives, the kicking game from the Cowboys was erratic. They kicked on every available tackle tonight which at points cost them field position in a close contest. The cross-field kick to Kyle Feldt which has become a staple looked the default option and was snuffed out each time.
There will be relief for Ricky Stuart and his Raiders side who have started to find form despite their mounting injury toll. They are equal fourth with fellow Grand Finalists Sydney Roosters and will start getting some troops back ready for the assault on the finals.
For the Cowboys, it was one step forward but there is a lot to work on for the side. Fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has shown positive signs, alongside their pack which gives them some good signs for the future.