The New Zealand Warriors have pulled off their first win in Townsville in five years with a very impressive 26-12 victory over a very poor and lacklustre North Queensland Cowboys outfit in Townsville.
One of the biggest tests for the Cowboys was the loss of three key players through suspension though things looked ok early for the North Queenslanders when replacement fullback Tomas Chester got on the board first. It came via some luck when Chad Townsend's kick ricocheted off the upright and couldn't be cleaned up by Wayde Egan and the Cowboys fullback got there first.
The Warriors hit back soon after when Wayde Egan was able to keep the ball and ball carrying arm off the ground to get over the line and score under the posts which gave Shaun Johnson an easy shot at goal.
Tom Chester's influence on the game continued when he timed his run perfectly to tap the ball backwards to Reece Robson who was able to get over the line and score almost untouched. The Cowboys looked to gain an upper-hand on the contest but it was the Warriors who were able to hit back just shy of the half hour mark when Marcelo Montoya got space on the outside of the Cowboys defence to score in the corner.
The Warriors then continued their dominance when it was Jazz Tevaga who got over through some excellent work from Shaun Johnson to draw in the defence before finding Dylan Walker who had great timing on the pass to find Jazz Tevaga who scored. Shaun Johnson converted in front to give the Warriors a 16-12 lead which they took into the break.
The second half needed to see the Cowboys click for their fans but they couldn't as their first attacking set ended poorly as the Warriors were able to take advantage. It was the impact of Shaun Johnson again who was able to draw in defenders before he found Adam Pompey who pulled in the defence and found an offload out to Ed Kosi who scored. Shaun Johnson got his laughs over the crowd as he slotted the conversion from out wide.
The Warriors again exploited the edge defence of the Cowboys this time down the left when a short-side play found Marcelo Montoya with a hint of space and the superman dive saw him get down in the corner to extend the New Zealander's lead out to 14. Shaun Johnson couldn't replicate his heroics from the other side of the field and convert.
Although they couldn't add to the scoreboard, the effort of the Warriors had to be admired with the professionalism of their play and they were able to deny the Cowboys at every opportunity including stopping Gehmaat Shibasaki who's poor day saw him go on report twice and lose the ball trying to score.
Next weekend, the Cowboys will be hoping for improvement as they take on a confidence brimming Titans side whilst the Warriors return to Auckland for the first time in 2023 when they host the Bulldogs.