A game of two very different halves has seen the North Queensland Cowboys take their first victory of 2021 with a 34-30 victory over the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
The opening 40 minutes from the Tigers could only be described as embarrassing as the North Queensland Cowboys racked up the points with some magical football. The visitors opened the scoring after just three minutes through some individual brilliance by Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow as the Cowboys winger chipped and chased through to score.
The Wests Tigers were able to hit back soon after when Daine Laurie was on the spot to clean up a spilled kick from Kyle Feldt and the Tigers were level.
The Daine Laurie four-pointer was the only highlight for the Tigers as their right-side defence was ripped apart by the Cowboys and Murray Tualagi was the beneficiary of the Tigers poor defence when Scott Drinkwater's kick in behind the line was cleaned up by Tualagi to score.
Things weren't going to get better for the Tigers as some individual brilliance from Scott Drinkwater to chip and chase after regathering his own ricocheted kick to score the Cowboys third try of the afternoon. The first half continued to go from bad to worse for the Tigers as a David Nofoaluma error gave the Cowboys more field position which they took advantage of when Ben Condon was able to crash his way over the try line.
A poor afternoon for David Nofoaluma continued on the Cowboys fifth try of the afternoon when Murray Tualagi chased through and pinched the ball out of a lazy Nofoaluma's grasp to score and following Holmes conversion, the Cowboys lead 28-6 at the break.
For the second half, the Tigers needed to find a spark and it may have come as the Tigers were leaving the field with the Leichhardt faithful collectively booing their side off the field as they went into the sheds.
The Tigers turned their first half misfortunes around in the second half when the home-side were able to bring themselves well and truly back into the contest. The Tigers were able to cross through David Nofoaluma after Adam Doueihi was able to create space for his winger to stroll over.
Not being able to touch the ball, the Cowboys just couldn't muscle up in defence with the Tigers attack coming at them as Luciano Leilua used some top-quality skill to grab a Luke Brooks grubber kick to score. The Tigers again scored in quick succession when Adam Doueihi was able to drag the Cowboys defence in before putting Luke Garner over from close range.
The bunker then spoiled the hopes of the Tigers when David Nofoaluma's second effort for a try was chalked off by Alan Shortall after it was ruled that James Roberts stopped in the defensive line denying the Cowboys a chance to tackle the Tigers winger despite it being initially awarded by Matt Cecchin onfield.
The salt was truly rubbed into the wounds of the Tigers up the other end of the field when Lachlan Burr was able to cross for the Cowboys which pushed the lead back out for the Cowboys.
The Tigers again were able to cross twice in the final 10 minutes first through Tommy Talau after some good work from Luciano Leilua who set up Talau to score in the corner before Joe Ofahengaue crossed in the final 60 seconds to give the Tigers one or two plays to steal victory. An error from Luke Brooks off the kick-off sealed the Tigers afternoon and the Cowboys took their first victory.
Next weekend, the Wests Tigers have a tough task taking on the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Stadium Australia on Saturday whilst the Cowboys will be brimming with confidence as they host the Bulldogs in Townsville on Sunday.