Cowboys still alive and kicking

WITH the finals just around the corner, the North Queensland Cowboys sent another warning to the rest of the competition they're not done with yet following a comprehensive 36-4 demolition of Penrith tonight.

The 32-point loss means the season is just about over for the Panthers, while the Cowboys can continue to dare to dream of finals footy for another week.

Cowboys hooker Ray Thompson notched up the first hat-trick for the club with his three tries all coming in the space of a 12-minute blitz in the second stanza.

The Cowboys started the match in the best possible fashion and only had to wait seven minutes before winger Antonio Winterstein scored their first points of the match. They shifted the ball to their left side with five-eighth Johnathan Thurston providing the money-ball with a deft touch on to his winger. Winterstein still had some work to do but outmuscled the Panthers cover defence before scoring in the corner.

The next 20 minutes or so was an old-fashioned arm-wrestle with both sides countering each other by exchanging mistakes along with playing some no-frills football. Ball movement was minimal and the Cowboys appeared to be content to complete their sets.

The Panthers did hit back however, in the 30th minute through winger David Simmons. Penrith didn't appear to be doing much in possession, with Lachlan Coote, back in the side after a lengthy injury lay-off, providing the final pass. His pass was intended for centre Dean Whare but it found the grass and luckily for the Panthers Simmons was waiting for the ball to bounce into his arms. He stepped off his left foot to beat the covering defence from Kane Linnett before winning the race to the corner.

The Cowboys appeared to be heading to the break with a two-point lead until Thurston again played a vital role in the try, this time scored by Brent Tate. Halfback Robert Lui combined with his playmaker who provided a perfect cut-out pass to Tate who got on the outside of Lewis Brown. He then muscled his way over the top of Matt Moylan to extend the Cowboys lead to eight points at the break following Thurston's conversion.

Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt, in just his second top-grade game, snuffed out any chance of a Penrith fightback when he latched onto a pin-point Thurston kick in the 48th minute to extend the lead to 12 points.

From that point on it was all one-way traffic as the Cowboys, led brilliantly by Thurston continued to pile on the points, no doubt leaving coach Neil Henry to continue to scratch his head.

Next week the Cowboys host the Titans in another do-or-die clash while the Panthers head across the ditch to tackle the Warriors.

Match Details
Penrith Panthers 4 North Queensland Cowboys 36
Venue: Penrith Stadium
Crowd: 6611
Halftime Score: North Queensland Cowboys 12-4 Players of the Match:
3 points - Johnathan Thurston
2 points - Ray Thompson
1 point - Kyle Feldt

Tries: David Simmons
Field Goals:
Conversions: Luke Walsh (0/1)
Penalty Goals:

Tries: Antonio Winterstein, Brent Tate, Kyle Feldt, Ray Thompson (3)
Field Goals:
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (6/6)
Penalty Goals: Live Commentary

Team news in for the Cowboys sees one change on the interchange bench with Jason Taumalolo drop off the bench. This gives Ricky Thorby a chance in the 17.

1. Matt Moylan, 2. Josh Mansour, 12. Lewis Brown, 4. Dean Whare, 5. Dave Simmons, 6. Isaac John, 7. Luke Walsh, 19. Sam McKendry, 9. Kevin Kingston (C), 10. Tim Grant, 11. Clint Newton, 20. Sika Manu, 14. James Segeyaro
Interchange: 8. Jeremy Latimore, 13. Ryan Simpkins, 16. Mose Masoe, 18. Lachlan Coote

1. Matthew Bowen 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Brent Tate 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Johnathan Thurston (c) 7. Robert Lui 8. Matthew Scott (c) 9. Ray Thompson 10. James Tamou 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Glenn Hall 13. Joel Riethmuller
Interchange: 14. Rory Kostjasyn 15. Tariq Sims 17. Ashton Sims 18. Ricky Thorby
Good evening footy fans and Sunday night footy returns to the foot of the mountains for tonight's crucial round 22 encounter between the Panthers and Cowboys. Both sides will be looking to keep their faint finals hopes flickering.
TEAM CHANGES: The Cowboys lose Jason Taumalolo with Ricky Thorby to come into the 17. Awaiting news on the Panthers.
Wholesale changes for the Panthers with Geoff Daniela, Nathan Smith and Cameron Ciraldo all dropping out of the side. Lewis Brown moves to the centres, Sam McKendry starts at prop with Sika Manu and James Segeyaro all into coach Ivan Cleary's starting side. The bench is now made up of Latimore, Simpkins, Masoe and Coote.
Fulltime in the Holden Cup and the Cowboys have hung on to beat the Panthers 22-18. Rain also starting to fall in western Sydney.
1 min: We're underway at Penrith. The Cowboys will have first touch of the footy tonight.
1 min: Mistake free opening from the Cowboys.
2 min: The Panthers run the ball on the last. Enterprising play but a changeover the result.
3 min: Great one on one tackle from Moylan.
3 min: Cowboys on the attack on tackle five.
4 min: Thurston kicks to Feldt who can't get a handle on the ball. It goes in touch. Changeover.
5 min: Pin point kick from Lui is taken well by Simmons. Linnett then throws him in-goal. Dropout.
Scored by Antonio Winterstein. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Winterstein gets us going tonight! The Cowboys moved the ball to their left side, with Thurston batting to ball onto his winger. He still had a bit to do, but outmuscled the Penrith defence to score the try in the corner. Thurston adds the extras from the sideline.
North Queensland Cowboys 6-0
9 min: Thurston kicks on the last straight to Moylan.
10 min: PENALTY Panthers. Cowboys too slow in the play-the-ball.
11 min: Walsh tries to kick into the in-goal but Thompson gets the ball rebounding off his legs before winning the race to gain possession.
12 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Lui kicks on the last tackle but Newton is ruled to have put him in a dangerous position. Replays suggest otherwise.
13 min: Good defence from the Panthers sees Feldt bundled into touch. Penrith scrum.
15 min: Simmons does very well for the Panthers to get in the field of play.
16 min: PENALTY Panthers. The home town crowd did well there. Cowboys holding on too long.
17 min: Penrith get out of trouble by running the ball on the last before Segeyaro puts the ball into the in-goal to get a repeat set.
18 min: PENALTY Panthers. Tamou holding on in the tackle again.
19 min: Walsh kicks back towards the posts where there is a pack of players, but the Panthers knock on. 20m restart.
22 min: The Cowboys come up with the error through Tate. Panthers on the attack.
22 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Panthers try.
22 min: No try. Segeyaro jumped out of dummy half, with his kick rebounding off the goalpost padding before the Cowboys dived on the loose ball.
23 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Kingston concedes the penalty on the last with hands on the ball.
24 min: Lui kicks on the last which is very average. Walsh with possession.
25 min: Feldt loses Walsh's kick backwards but luckily for him Thurston was there.
28 min: Perfectly weighted kick from Walsh on the last. Cowboys dropout.
Scored by David Simmons. Conversion attempt by Luke Walsh unsuccessful.
Simmons hits back for the Panthers! Lachlan Coote's cut-out pass missed centre Dean Whare, but found itself in the arms of Simmons who won the race to the corner. Walsh's conversion swings across the face of goal.
North Queensland Cowboys 6-4
33 min: Coote kicks on the last straight to Feldt and the winger puts the ball down with no one around. Panthers scrum.
34 min: Walsh trickles the kick into the in-goal but Feldt hangs on this time and gets into the field of play.
35 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Latimore with a hand on the ball.
36 min: Thurston kicks left-footed but it goes dead. Panthers restart.
37 min: Razzle dazzle from the Panthers but Latimore puts it down.
Scored by Brent Tate. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Brent Tate scores a scintillating try for the Cowboys! Lui and Thurston combined before JT threw a great cut-out pass to Tate who went through a poor attempted tackle from Brown and Moylan to score 10m in from touch. Thurston adds the two.
North Queensland Cowboys 12-4
40 min: Halftime at Penrith and the visitors lead the Panthers 12-4.
41 min: The second stanza is underway, who can start finalising end-of-year plans? We'll find out in 40 minutes. Panthers with first use.
41 min: Good opening set from the Panthers with Walsh's kick perfect. Kick-chase also good.
43 min: Coote grubbers on the last and Bowen picks up the ball but is now receiving attention.
44 min: Walsh goes to the air and the Panthers have their chasers bat the ball back into the arms of Winterstein.
46 min: PENALTY Panthers. Sims too long in the ruck.
47 min: Good hit on Kingston forces the ball loose. Cowboys scrum.
48 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Cowboys try.
Scored by Kyle Feldt. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Feldt scores his first try in the top grade and what a try it was! Thurston wrapped around to the blindside, kicking into the corner and his winger won the race to the ball, catching Moylan with his pants down. Thurston again adds the extras.
North Queensland Cowboys 18-4
51 min: PENALTY Panthers. Segeyaro appeared to just lose possession but the referees ruled it had a hand.
52 min: Simmons picks up the ball from dummy half and then knocks on.
55 min: Thurston kicks into touch 5m from the Panthers line. Penrith scrum.
56 min: Brown leaves possession behind as well as his pants. Cowboys ball.
57 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Cowboys try.
Scored by Ray Thompson. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Thompson scores for the Cowboys! Lui's kick was knocked off the hands of Mansour before the Cowboys hooker scooped up the bouncing ball to cross alongside the posts. Thurston again adds the extras.
North Queensland Cowboys 24-4
59 min: PENALTY Cowboys. The restart goes out on the full with Sims allowing the ball to sail over the sideline.
60 min: Top-class scrambling defence from the Panthers drags Tate touch in-goal. 20m restart.
61 min: The Panthers don't communicate on the last and meekly turn over possession.
Scored by Ray Thompson. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Thompson scores his second but it was all Thurston! The mercurial five-eighth dummied his way through the Panthers defence before throwing the pass on the outside to his hooker to cross. Thurston again adds the extras from in front.
North Queensland Cowboys 30-4
65 min: Lui drills a 40-metre drop punt into touch. Panthers scrum.
66 min: Kingston loses the ball trying to play it quickly. Cowboys scrum.
67 min: Tate kicks on the last but Mansour wins the race to the ball.
68 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Cowboys try.
Scored by Ray Thompson. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Thompson registers his hat-trick! Thurston grubbered for Tate, but Feldt won the race to the ball, kicking it into the path of Tate who batted it into the arms of his hooker. Thurston again turns four into six.
North Queensland Cowboys 36-4
72 min: Coote goes to the air and Feldt outjumps Mansour to claim possession.
73 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Segeyaro ruled to have given Thorby an unnecessary working over on the ground.
73 min: It doesn't happen often but Thurston doesn't find touch.
75 min: Cowboys bat back Thurston's bomb but Grant was bludging in the back field and claimed possession.
76 min: Coote tries to pop an impossible pass over the top and the ball comes free.
77 min: Tariq Sims leaves the ball behind as the game degenerates.
78 min: PENALTY Panthers. Thompson ruled to have flopped in.
78 min: Isaac John grubbers into the in-goal but it trickles dead. Cowboys restart.
80 min: Lui decides he's had enough and deliberately kicks the ball dead. Not long left now.
80 min: Moylan knocks on from the Isaac John kick and it's all over.
80 min: Fulltime at Centrebet and the Cowboys have run out comprehensive 36-4 victors.