They have done it again. Yet another come-from-behind win by the North Queensland Cowboys that continues their impressive form. Although they still cannot string eighty minutes together, they somehow find a way to win.
It was a slow start for the Cowboys, as they trailed 18-4 at the break, as the Raiders had all the momentum and ascendancy in the first half.
However, in typical Cowboys fashion, the light flickered, switched on and saw the Cowboys come out a side possessed in the second half, repelling the Raiders and winning again.
With both sides donning their respective Marvel Superhero jerseys – Canberra, the Hulk and the Cowboys, Thor – it was the Cowboys forwards that eventually got the roll-on required to set up the win.
In front of almost 17,000 fans, there were plenty of nervous moments and the usual planned structured attack that has worked so well for the Cowboys was missing in the first half.
Completing at just 50% in the first half, the Cowboys needed some fortune in the second and got it when a stray offload saw winger Antonio Winterstein race away to score. From there, momentum was always with the home side.
The Cowboys have now won 15 of their last 16 games and the Raiders missed an opportunity to leapfrog the Warriors into eighth position.
Despite the loss, the efforts from his players drew praise aplenty from Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.
“We are a very, very fit football team and I think we handled the conditions extremely well. We only used three interchanges in the first half,” said Stuart.
“We prepared for it. The way we played the first half is how we prepared. We were such a dominant footy team in the first half, we were wonderful in the first half.”
With interchange players now playing such a big role in the game, it was the impact he received from his bench that pleased Cowboys coach Paul Green.
“He was really good, Benny. He’s been doing a great job; all of our bench have been doing a great job,” said Green.
“Johnny Asiata was really good off the bench there tonight, ‘Bolt’s (Bolton) and Rory Kostjasyn. When they come on in the games the tempo of our play doesn’t really drop which is important.”
Although they missed the chance to make the eight this week, the Raiders remain well and truly in the finals hunt.
“We look at each game (individually),” said Stuart.
“Tonight is disappointing because it probably makes it harder (to make the top eight). But we don’t go out there trying to count numbers and where we’ve got to be and who we’ve got to play and what we’ve got to do. We just worry about next week.”
Player of the Game:
3. Johnathan Thurston
2. Ethan Lowe
1. Jack Wighton
North Queensland Cowboys 32 (Antonio Winterstein 2, Michael Morgan, Gavin Cooper, Jake Granville tries; Johnathan Thurston 6 goals) def Canberra Raiders 24 (Jack Wighton, Edrick Lee, Sia Soliola, Kurt Baptiste tries; Jarrod Croker 4 goals) at 1300SMILES Stadium. Crowd: 16, 207. Half-time: Cowboys 10-4. On Report: Edrick Lee (Canberra, 43rd minute)