Winning 11 games in a row is a remarkable feat by any team and it is the streak that the North Queensland Cowboys currently enjoy, winning a closely contested game against the Canberra Raiders yesterday afternoon.
The 21-20 win was full of action throughout and it came down to a last-second field goal after the siren by Johnathan Thurston that won the game for the Cowboys.
The game was very nearly headed for extra-time as the Cowboys had two previous field-goal attempts charged down by Raiders back-rower Iosia Soliola, prompting commentator Andrew Voss to comment: “Soliola! He’s like the Great Wall of China!”
The win continues the Cowboys winning streak but on the flip side for the Raiders, their home record is surprisingly poor after the loss.
With Michael Morgan the only Cowboys player that failed to back up from the bruising Origin encounter on Wednesday, Thurston stood up and showed his class as usual.
His efforts, coupled with those from fullback Lachlan Coote and hooker Jake Granville proved to be the difference, before JT heroics sealed the win.
It was all the Cowboys in the first half as they attacked the Raiders line frivolously, with their completion rate at an incredibly high standard.
The Raiders fought back, though, and showed that despite the loss, they are a team that can go toe-to-toe with competition heavyweights.
Both teams also had tries disallowed, both of which were somewhat contentious.
The effort from the Raiders was phenomenal and that was the first thing Stuart took out of the defeat.
“We’ll get so much out of that game as a footy team,” Ricky Stuart said after the tough loss.
“I’m disappointed for the players because they’re broken hearted because of the effort they put in. They won’t understand right at this moment but we’ll get so much out of that.”
Those sentiments were echoed by captain Jarrod Croker.
“It’s extremely disappointing but we’ll get a lot out of it,” Croker said.
With Origin such a gruelling contest, Cowboys coach Paul Green was pleased with the dogged determination his players showed for backing up.
“I was really proud of the way they came back,” Paul Green said.
“The attitude they have when they come back it shows they care a lot about the team.
“Origin’s obviously massive and it’s a great thing to be part of but you can really tell with our blokes that when they get back in amongst us that they care quite a lot about the teamâ€¦ it was a huge effort.
“I thought those three Origin boys in particular today really showed what being a professional rugby league player is all about.”
One player who shone for the Cowboys was hooker Jake Granville and his play did not go unnoticed by Green.
“He forced the error that got us the scrum that eventually got us the win,” Cowboys coach Green said.
“He also set up the try for Wrighty [Matthew Wright] there as well.
“I’ve been involved with Jake for a number of years and I’m really pleased for him.
“He’s got his chance at this level and he’s certainly taken it this year, he’s been outstanding for us.”
Player of the Game:
3. Jake Granville
2. Jordan Rapana
1. James Tamou