North Queensland defy the odds to down Newcastle

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North Queensland Cowboys v Newcastle Knights

The North Queensland Cowboys have overcome two players being sent to the sin bin to defeat the Newcastle Knights 36-20 at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

In a match unlikely to be remembered by defensive purists, the Cowboys defied playing with 11 men midway through the first half to post their fourth consecutive win at home.

Posting the first 16 points before trailing early in the second half, the Cowboys piled on four second half tries to condemn the Knights to their seventh loss of the season.

Identifying a weakness in the Knights' inexperienced right edge pairing of Simi Sasagi and Starford To'a, North Queensland winger Murray Taulagi (7th minute) showed great speed and footwork to touch down for the opening try of the night. 

Adding a second four-pointer in the following set, an offload from Shane Wright close to the line allowed Reece Robson (11th minute) to stroll over untouched.

Avoiding a scare after To'a was denied a four-pointer for an obstruction, the home side wasted little time in heaping further pain on the visitors with Taulagi (17th minute) bagging his second of the night.

Seemingly destined for another tough night at the office, the Knights sparked into action midway through the first half courtesy of a try to interchange forward Sauaso Sue (23rd minute) just moments after coming onto the field.

Taking advantage of Jason Taumalolo being sent to the sin bin for making contact with Tyson Frizell's head, former Cowboy Enari Tuala (28th minute) came back to haunt his former club after running a beautiful line created by Phoenix Crossland.

Playing with a two-man advantage after Lachlan Burr joined Taumalolo in the sin bin for a high tackle on Jayden Brailey, the Knights completed a remarkable fightback with Lachlan Fitzgibbon (31st minute) locking the scores up at 16-all at the change of ends.

Hitting the front after Sasagi - making his NRL debut - produced a flick pass reminiscent of Matthew Gidley to put To'a (46th minute) over in the corner, the Knights slowly lost touch with the contest over the course of the second half.

The Cowboys continued to target the Knights' edge defence as Taulagi (52nd minute) claimed his first career hat-trick before Valentine Holmes (60th minute) put the home side back in front.

Unable to show the composure needed to stay in the contest, a mix up in-goal between Kurt Mann and Brayden Musgrove allowed Mitch Dunn (69th minute) to secure the victory.

Cairns junior Heilum Luki (76th minute) marked his NRL debut with a late try to push the final score out to 36-20.

Next week, the Cowboys host the Warriors on Friday evening, while the Knights return home on Sunday afternoon to take on the Sea Eagles.

North Queensland Cowboys 36 - Newcastle Knights 20

Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium
Crowd: 11208
Halftime Score: North Queensland Cowboys 16 Newcastle Knights 16 Players of the Match:
3 points - Scott Drinkwater
2 points - Murray Taulagi
1 points - Shane Wright

Tries: Murray Taulagi (3), Valentine Holmes, Reece Robson, Mitchell Dunn, Heilum Luki
Conversions: Valentine Holmes (4/7)

Tries: Sauaso Sue, Enari Tuala, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Starford To'a
Conversions: Mitchell Barnett (1/1), Phoenix Crossland (1/3)

See how it happened in our Match Centre