The North Queensland Cowboys won in the most dramatic of circumstances but a win is a win, as they start their 2017 campaign with a hard-fought golden point win over the Canberra Raiders.
Having previously missed a field goal attempt, the best halfback in the game – that is, Johnathan Thurston – made another attempt, skewed it and had it ricochet off the bottom of the crossbar where a waiting Gavin Cooper pounced to score & seal the game.
Despite the loss, the Raiders were often resolute in defence. It was their attack, however, coupled with ill-discipline and poor ball control that ultimately cost them the game.
The Raiders opened the scoring through surprise selection Zac Santo, playing at fullback in the absence of regular Jack Wighton.
The Cowboys hit back, though, as Thurston and Coote combined for the custodian to score, with both teams heading into the break with the scores locked at 6-apiece.
There was a chance for the Cowboys to grab the bull by the horns after Clay Priest was sin-binned but they failed to capitalise.
The game went to and fro after that, as Joey Leilua nabbed a double for the Raiders – including a last-ditch effort – that forced the game to golden point.
With the ending that has to be seen to be believed, whilst the scoreboard will say the Cowboys won, no team was the loser on the day in what was a tremendous game of football.
Cowboys coach Paul Green praised the resilience of his players after the win.
“That’s one of the things we pride ourselves on is how you compete individually, we want that never say die attitude play at the end was exactly what that was,” Green said.
“A lot was said about their big pack and physicality in how they play, they were missing a few players tonight but those (senior) guys really did a great job for us.”
As for Raiders head coach Ricky Stuart, he praised his team’s attitude and willingness to play, as well as highlighting some minor discrepancies he found with the officiating.
“That was an amazing effort from our team, I’m so proud of them,” Stuart said post-game.
“They don’t become repetitive penalties or repeated infringement if the opposition is getting penalised for what you’re getting penalised for.”
Player of the Game:
3. Matt Scott
2. Josh Papalii
1. Jason Taumalolo
Cowboys 20 (Lachaln Coote, Coen Hess, Javid Bowen, Gavin Cooper tries; Johnathan Thurston 2 goals) def. Raiders 16 (Joey Leilua 2, Sia Soliola; Aiden Sezer 2 goals) at 1300SMILES Stadium. Half-time: 6-6. Crowd: 17,548