Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cowboys Ride Home For Win

The North Queensland Cowboys, led by a strong performance from Johnathon Thurston, have scored a 24-20 home win at dairyfarmers stadium tonight. Thurston, backing up from last nights test against New Zealand, scored a hat trick and kicked three from four goals.

He wasn't alone in the try scoring stakes though, as St George winger Brett Morris went one better, to touch down on four occasions.

Both teams created plenty of chances in the first half, but the execution did not have the required finishing standard needed. The cowboys were making ground up the middle of the ruck, but regularly put down passes on the crucial final plays. St George on the other hand, were creating opportunities with their left side attack at will. Like the Cowboys, they also could not turn these into points.

With five players backing up from representative commitments last night, as opposed to just two from the Cowboys, St George did well to lead 10-8 at half-time.

The Cowboys opened the scoring with a converted try to Thurston in the 8th minute, after he jinked off his left foot to evade three defenders and scoot ten metres for the first of his three tries.

Over the next twenty minutes, it was a case of lost opportunities for both sides. And it was one of those for the Cowboys, as they were attacking the St George goal line that gave St George their first try. When the Cowboys knocked on, Morris scooped the ball up,ran ten metres, only to be confronted by the menacing sight of Matt Bowen, fended him off and bade a not so fond au-revoir to Bowen, then raced a further eighty-five metres to score under the the cross-bar.

Jamie Soward converts to level the score at six a piece.

Seven minutes later, Morris went over for the second of his tries, after St George were awarded a penalty and spread the ball wide to their left side attack through quick hands, to take the score to 10-6.

It had to happen. A referees recourse, in the 38th minute. Yay for the referees recourse. Lets all gather around, break open a packet of pineapple lumps and launch into a noteworthy rendition of kum ba yah. Luke O'Donnell abused referee Brett Suttor and had a friendly chat for his troubles. To Mr Suttor, kind sir, if a player abuses you, the only talking you need to do, is to tell him to have ten minutes rest.

North Queensland had carte blanche over proceedings for the first twenty minutes of the second half. Despite this, St George managed to hold them out initially, but the weight of possesion told in the end.

In the 49th minute Tamou runs off a Matt Bowen short pass to dive over next to the upright, to put his team in the lead, 12-10 after Thurston converts.

They then extended their lead to 18-10 nine minutes later when Thurston scores his second try, after Willie Tonga was held up on the St George line, and managed to off-load to Thurston.

Having done nothing but defend for twenty minutes and with fatigue setting in, St George could have been forgiven for closing off mentally. But that is not the way of the 2009 version of the Dragons.

Having been awarded a penalty in the 66th minute, St George spread the ball wide to Soward, who threw a cut out pass to Morris who dived over for his hat trick. With Sowards conversion, this levelled the score at 18-16 to the Cowboys and it was game on.

Not long after Thurston throws a dummy to dive over for his third try and with the conversion gives the Cowboys a eight point buffer.

This should have been the match won, but the Cowboys gave away three penalties in a row, to give St George good field position. Which they took advantage off. With three minutes remaining on the clock, Ben Hornby grubbered through into the Cowboys in-goal. Brett Morris, following through, dives on the ball just inside the dead ball line to bring the score back to 24-20.

Soward misses the conversion, but the Dragons have one final opportunity when Hornby, on his twenty metre line, slices through the Cowboys defence and races forty metres before passing to Pryor. Pryor runs twenty metres and draws two defenders in, then off-loads to Wendel Sailor.

Alas, not. The ball travels harmlessly over the sideline and the Cowboys hang on for a gritty win.

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