Late rampage sees Cowboys ride on home with a top 4 place

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Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v North Queensland Cowboys

North Queensland have come back from a 14-point deficit to defeat Manly Warringah 28-26 in an enthralling and thrilling match at 4 Pines Park.

The Cowboys suffered a cruel blow minutes before kickoff when QLD representative Reuben Cotter strained his hamstring in the warmup forcing a late reshuffle and early on it appeared to work against the visitors with the Cowboys struggling to get out of yardage against a Manly side who had it all to play for in the logjam for the finals. It was the home side who got on the board first as we got a glimpse of what would become a theme of the contest. A lovely second kick from Kieran Foran found Christian Tuipulotu on the full and Manly would play from in front. 

The defensive effort in the twenty-fourth minute would've reminded Todd Payten of last year as Morgan Harper burned the Cowboys defence before linking up with Reuben Garrick to lead 10-0. The kicking duals continued when North Queensland crossed for their first try just on the half-hour mark when Coen Hess batted the ball back which allowed Chad Townsend to put it on a dime for Valentine Holmes to cross. Harper might have some problems with the match-review committee when he appeared to knee Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow in the head, the Hammer wouldn't return after the incident as the Cowboys trailed by four at the break.

North Queensland started the second half the better side winning the forward battle and out-enthusing the Manly pack that dominated the opening 40. It was the noble kick that saw them take the lead when Andrew Davey dropped the ball straight into the bread basket of Jeremiah Nanai and the Cowboys led for the first time. Although their lead was short-lived when Tuipulotu flew above QLD hopeful Murray Taulagi to cross and retake the lead. Then, Lachlan Croker turned the game in a dramatic three-minute period which began with a booming 40/20 that turned all momentum back to Manly. A clever grubber from Daly Cherry-Evans in the ensuing set and Croker won the race to the ball and Manly were up by eight. Another passage of second kicks led to Croker's second when Croker chased his own kick that was nearly dropped by Josh Schuster and Croker won the race and Manly looked home and hosed.

But as we know, we don't doubt the Cowboys this season and began their comeback with eight minutes to play, Reece Robson was placed onside by Nanai and crashed over off yet another kick and reduced the margin to eight. Off the ensuing set, the Cowboys made an exciting interchange of play which saw Val Holmes link up with Taulagi who linked up with Connelly Lemuelu and the margin was cut to two. The game looked over when Nanai dropped the kickoff, but a lapse in concentration from DCE saw him hit strongly by Scott Drinkwater and Val Holmes raced 90 meters to put the Cowboys in front. Despite a last-ditch effort from Manly, North Queensland held on for a famous victory away from home.

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 26 - North Queensland Cowboys 28

Venue: 4 Pines Park, Brookvale
Crowd: 9266
Halftime Score: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 10 North Queensland Cowboys 6 Players of the Match:
3 points - Lachlan Croker
2 points - Valentine Holmes
1 points - Jason Taumalolo

Tries: Christian Tuipulotu (2), Reuben Garrick, Lachlan Croker (2)
Conversions: Reuben Garrick (3/5)

Tries: Valentine Holmes (2), Jeremiah Nanai, Reece Robson, Connelly Lemuelu
Conversions: Valentine Holmes (4/5)

See how it happened in our Match Centre