The North Queensland Cowboys have delivered for their home fans in spectacular fashion, winning a see-sawing clash against the Dragons by a solitary golden-point 23-22 in Townsville tonight.
The Dragons had a chance to put points on the board early when Valentine Holmes made a mess of a regulation pickup at the back, but the Cowboys were let off the hook when Ravalawa also knocked on on play 1. It was a case of getting the bad stuff out of the way early for Holmes, who was exceptional for the rest of the night
The Cowboys then gave their home faithful a reason to be hopeful that tonight could be the night when they opened the scoring in the 8th minute through Francis Molo. Molo ran a textbook crash ball line and was able to barge his way over the Dragons defence, which in all honesty should've stopped him with ease.
The match became an arm wrestle for the next 20 minutes or so until the Dragons big guns combined to send Warriors bound centre Euan Aitken over the try-line untouched. McInnes passed the ball from dummy half to Ben Hunt, who on his 250th elected to run on the last and caught out some poor Cowboys defenders with the pass to Aitken.
The Cowboys would've been experiencing some deja vu from last week against Cronulla, where they also scored the first try only to get run down quite easily, when Mikaele Ravalawa produced a putdown for the ages only 4 minutes after the Aitken try. Ravalawa walked the tightrope and stayed upright the whole time while having Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow try to get bundle him into touch, and only just got the ball down in time.
A penalty goal to Zac Lomax right on half time sent the away side into the sheds with a 6-point lead.
The Cowboys had a dream start to the second half and it came off the back of a Jake Clifford kick being allowed to bounce by Matt Dufty. Valentine Holmes was within the vicinity and took possession, chinking across field before linking up with Kyle Feldt, who did well to beat his opposite number and offload. The man on the receiving end of the offload was Jake Clifford, the same man who put the kick in on halfway, and he streaked down the touchline to finish off a spectacular team try and the scores were locked at 12 apiece.
The Dragons weren't a fan of not being in the lead and went over themselves just 5 minutes later courtesy of some brilliant work close to the line from Adam Clune. "Cluney" was faced with a broken defensive line 20 metres out from the Cowboys in goal and beat a couple of defenders before handing the ball off to a determined Jacob Host who proved too strong for Feldt and Holmes.
The try for try nature of the match continued when Scott Drinkwater decided to take control of the team and combine brilliantly with fullback Valentine Holmes to lay on another try. Drinkwater did enough to get the defence moving left before stepping back off his right foot to give Holmes an inside ball to score the equaliser. It didn't last long however, with Lomax edging the Dragons ahead 20-18 with a penalty goal just 5 minutes later.
In the 68th minute, Drinkwater stole the show yet again, opting to go down a short-side and commit the Dragons defenders before getting a peach of a pass out to Kyle Feldt, who would not have scored an easier try in his career. The Cowboys had the lead but Holmes couldn't convert, leaving the score at 22-20.
Just as it seemed that the Cowboys couldn't possibly lose it, the Dragons got a penalty in kickable range with 2 minutes to go and Lomax made no mistake with the goal. Both sides missed field goal attempts and we were destined for golden point.
After Corey Norman gifted the Cowboys 7 tackles with his missed field goal in the first period of golden point, the Cowboys looked set to strike. The ball went to Valentine Holmes, but it was charged down. In the aftermath, the ref found a Dragons knock on and the Cowboys had a full set in prime range to seal the match.
Holmes was never going to miss 2 shots in a row. It was in the middle of the tackle count and the stage was set for the big money recruit, and boy did he deliver. The kick never looked like missing and for a second the Cowboys fans forgot all about the horrible season they've had to date. It was fitting that Holmes kicked the match winner, him and Drinkwater were the standouts for the home side.
Next week, the Dragons will return to Wollongong and look to upset the Raiders, while the Cowboys have a mammoth task ahead against the Melbourne Storm on the Sunshine Coast.