The North Queensland Cowboys have constructed a convincing win in Canberra to defeat the Raiders 22-6 in front of 12,135 fans. The Raiders prior to the contest had 8 wins from their past 10 Monday Night clashes, however the Cowboys against the grain stole the two competition points away from home.
The pressure was mounted earlier by the visitors to see them craft a set play as Johnathan Thurston guided the ball to Brent Tate on the right wing to crash over. Thurston’s conversion from the touchline hooked beautifully to add the extras. 10 minutes down, Cowboys 6-0.
Man of the match, Thurston stamped his skills on the game with a lovely cut out play to put Ashley Graham through a hole for the first of a double. His conversion an easier attempt compared to his first was successful, 30 minutes lapsed, Cowboys 12-0.
“Our attack was poor last week against the Sharks, we had plenty of field position against them but didn’t get over the line,” Henry said.
“We worked hard on it – credit to the boys, we executed some nice plays on that right edge and got some plays out wide.”
Despite playing out of his skins, and taking control from five-eighth for the first time this season, Thurston deflected any praise directed towards him, and passed it on to his team-mates.
I think it was the best team performance – our forward pack did a really good job on their forward pack,” Thurston said.
“When you’re a halfback or a five-eighth, playing off momentum makes your job so much easier.”
The Raiders continued to have lack of possession and field territory which saw them down 12-0 at the half time break.
The Cowboys targeted Raiders winger Jack Wighton on a number of occasions and it paid dividends with Graham gifted a Thurston ball to collect his second four-pointer. Conversion from Thurston pushed wide, Cowboys 16-0.
Video Referee, Steve Clark brought in for a quick review to award the Cowboys fourth try to Ray Thompson. Dane Tilse aided Thompson’s effort over the line, the North Queensland side on top 22-0 with Thurston’s conversion.
A turn in possession and some luck finally saw the home side on the board. Sam Mataora bashed his way over the line similar to the four-pointer against the Wests Tigers in Round 4. A leak in points from the Cowboys with ten minutes on the clock had a change in score, 22-6.
In the final moments of the contest, the Raiders started to play catch up football however it was a little-to-late. An almost miracle try to Josh McCrone was added to the sheet, but the Steve Clarke spun up the red lights.
“I said to the group I’m not looking to blame injuries, I think we’ve got to look at the start … (but) we were just holding on there at the end,” Furner said.
“We lost far too much energy in our middle, those injuries hurt us a little bit.”
The Cowboys didn’t end the match they way they started, nevertheless the victory on the board as they defeated the Raiders in Canberra 22-6.
The Raiders were dealt a big blow heading into the remainder of the season, with representative prop Brett White ruled out for the rest of the season, after suffering a ruptured ACL injury.
To make matters even worst for the Raiders, centre-come-second-rower Joel Thompson also left the field, due to an ankle injury.
A big test for the North Queensland squad will come when they travel to AAMI Park to face the five-straight victors the Melbourne Storm. Meanwhile the Raiders open Canberra Stadium again to the New Zealand Warriors.