Storm claim victory in match of the year
10 hours ago | Robert Crosby
The North Queensland Cowboys have recorded their first win against a top 8 side in 2020, doing it in style by racing out to a 26 point half time lead before eventually winning the match 32-20.
The Knights were heavily favoured going into this one and after 2 minutes it was looking like Newcastle by how much. Rookie fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow couldn't handle the first high ball that came his way, giving the men in red and blue a prime opportunity to put points on the board early and leaving their fans experiencing deja-vu from last weeks demolition at the hands of the Tigers.
The Cowboys had come to play though, and it became apparent when they repelled the Knights with ease, Gehamat Shibasaki dropping an easy pass cold. Their dominance didn't start until around the 9th minute, when Shibasaki again made a simple error and gifted the Cowboys a prime attacking opportunity. They wasted no time putting points on the board, with Justin O'Neill finishing off a perfectly executed backline shift.
From that point it appeared the Cowboys had wrestled all the momentum from the Knights. They were hitting harder and the Knights' play the balls were 10 times slower than their opposition. Kyle Feldt kicked a penalty goal to put his side up by 8 and the set from a kickoff was a clinic on how to play Rugby League. North Queensland made 70 odd metres off the kickoff and rolled the ball into touch, and when they received the ball on the last Reece Robson made a clean line break and linked up with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, who score his maiden NRL try.
The one way traffic continued after that. Jake Clifford took the defence on close to the try-line and reaped the rewards, easily breaking through and showing up former Cowboy Kalyn Ponga in the process. After Kyle Feldt nailed the easy conversion, the score was 20-0 in favour of the Cowboys after 25 minutes.
The errors continued for Newcastle, they were completing at 65% after 37 minutes and were really struggling to keep pace with their superior opponents. Just as it appeared the Knights would survive to half time, Kyle Feldt took to the sky to pounce on a perfect cross-field kick by Jake Clifford. Feldt put on his kicking boots to nail the sideline conversion and make the half time scoreline 26-0.
If the Knights were to have any chance, they needed to score first and score quickly. That's exactly what they did, with rookie Tex Hoy scoring after Lachlan Fitzgibbon made a break upfield in a try very similar to Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow's in the first half.
The resurgence was short lived though, with Jacob Saifiti knocking on off the first set after points. The Cowboys weren't about to let this one slip, and Tom Opacic produced one of the pickups of the season followed by one of the offloads of the season to put Coen Hess over untouched.
A string of 5 set restarts in 6 minutes preceded Newcastle's second try of the match. Kalyn Ponga showed his class by getting a brilliant quick cutout ball away to Hymel Hunt, who did well to only just stay in the field of play.
Where there's life, there's hope is what Newcastle fans were telling themselves 5 minutes later. They were handed a penalty late in the tackle count after Mitchell Pearce was hit late after passing, and they capitalised on their field position through Kurt Mann. Mann showed the form he has exhibited in recent weeks by taking the line on and getting through some soft Cowboys defence and planting the ball down, making the gap less than 3 converted tries with 20 minutes to go.
Time started ticking away on a Knights comeback and those errors from earlier started creeping back into their game. Esan Marsters strolled over the line but was ruled to have benefited from an obstruction play, giving the Knights a penalty and the last roll of the dice. Gehamat Shibasaki got his first try in the NRL after 17 games, giving the Knights a sliver of hope being down by 12 with 4 minutes to go.
There was a penalty try referred to the bunker with a minute to go, with the referee examining whether Ponga would've scored had it not been for the impact of Scott Drinkwater off the ball. He was ruled to not be in try scoring vicinity and that was all she wrote for the 80 minutes, the Cowboys winning 32 points to 20.
The Cowboys will take on the Eels at Bankwest Stadium next week while the Knights will look to bounce back against the Sea Eagles at Brookvale.
North Queensland Cowboys 32 - Newcastle Knights 20
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium
Halftime Score: North Queensland Cowboys 26 Newcastle Knights 0
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Jake Clifford
2 points - Jason Taumalolo
1 points - Tom Opacic
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (32)
Tries: Justin O'Neill, Kyle Feldt, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Jake Clifford, Coen Hess
Conversions: Kyle Feldt (5/5)
Penalty Goals: Kyle Feldt (1/1)
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (20)
Tries: Tex Hoy, Hymel Hunt, Kurt Mann, Gehamat Shibasaki
Conversions: Kalyn Ponga (2/4)