Valentine Holmes nailed an 80th minute field goal for the North Queensland Cowboys to down a resurgent New Zealand Warriors 29-28 tonight in Townsville.
Cowboys did their best to throw away the contest but Valentine Holmes kicked his second field goal of the year to get them home after a second half surge had put New Zealand Warriors ahead 28-22 in the final five minutes.
The new home stadium has become a fortress for North Queensland Cowboys. Tonight was their fifth straight win at the venue, but they were made to dig deep despite leading 22-6 at the break after Murray Tuilagi, Jake Clifford and Josh Drinkwater found the tryline while Jazz Tevaga was in the sin bin for a late shot. They had to rally late and gave Holmes the chance to kick the game winner.
Warriors showed when it was 13-on-13 they were the better side. Youngster Reece Walsh put together another starring performance which included setting up a pair of tries before the fullback streaked away from a drop ball to make it 22-all. Walsh has made the fullback position his own since the switch with the outgoing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and has firmed as a future Origin star.
New Zealand came to North Queensland with a good record and started the contest well. Euan Aitken who was hampered with injury earlier this season finished off a set move to make it 6-nil as the Warriors looked to keep their record intact.
Cowboys hit back through Kyle Feldt to make it 6-6 then took control thanks to the Tevaga sin bin. Clifford and Drinkwater both found the stripe alongside hat-trick hero from last weekend Murray Tuilagi to make it 22-6 at the break. Coach Todd Payten on the road to victory against his former club.
It was Walsh wonderland in the second half. He supplied the pass for Aitken to steam over for his second from the scrum then a wonderful cutout put Marcelo Montoya over to level things up at 22-all. Between that, he scooped up a loose ball and outran Cowboys interchange forward Heilum Luki to get his own four-pointer.
The game looked dead and buried but the Cowboys found some resolve. They spread it wide on their right before Tabuai-Fidow who locked it up again at 28-all before they were pinged for an incorrect play-the-ball which led to Chanel Harris-Tavita's missed field goal.
When the Cowboys need a game winner, they look to their fullback. Holmes has already kicked a game-winning field goal back in Round 9 against Brisbane and it was set up just like a gridiron special teams play. Holmes stood on the 40-metre line and drilled the kick to send North Queensland Cowboys into the top eight in a thriller.