Canberra has not been a happy hunting ground for the North Queensland Cowboys but they have overcome their hoodoo, with a tough 22-16 win over the Canberra Raiders.
Led once again by Jason Taumalolo and with others chipping in, the win is much needed for the Cowboys as they look to move away from the bottom of the ladder.
After an ill-disciplined opening twenty minutes, the Raiders never recovered, instead slumping to their third loss in a row.
Both sides had their chances early, only for obstruction to deny the Raiders and errant passing stopping the Cowboys from scoring.
Several penalties in succession saw the Cowboys opt for a penalty goal to take a 2-0 lead.
Both sides again came close to scoring; only sturdy defence and butter fingers prevented the opening try from being scored.
Points would come soon, though, as Jake Granville split the Raiders defence and found Tom Opacic who coasted away to score.
The Raiders, who started the season so well, lacked some of their early year punch and it showed.
Unable to capitalise on a Jack Wighton 40/20, a lack of execution cost them for long periods of the game.
Points would finally come, as Wighton found young winger Bailey Simonsson in the corner.
Scores were level soon after, when opposite winger Michael Oldfield capitalised on some Cowboys confusion to win the race and score.
Taking the lead for the first time after Jarrod Croker’s conversion, the momentum seemed to be in the Raiders favour.
However, after several surging runs by their experienced forward pack, the Cowboys took the lead again just before the break.
Opting to run on the last tackle, Justin O’Neill sliced through to score his first try against the Raiders in Cowboys colours.
A possible broken thumb to Josh Hodgson was a further blow for the Raiders, compounded by another Cowboys try.
Kyle Feldt then scored, when a deft kick over the top found the winger in space to plant the ball down.
A further penalty goal extended the lead but Siliva Havili did his best to keep the Raiders alive.
The nuggety hooker plowed his way over from close range to score and keep the game tense.
An offside penalty eventually gave the Cowboys another penalty goal and a 22-16 lead and that would be all she wrote.
With their defence criticised in recent games and across the year, Cowboys coach Paul Green was pleased with his side’s defensive effort.
“Defence is an area of our game that has really improved the last few weeks,” Green said.
“We’ve been a lot more consistent in our effort so that was an example of what we’d been lacking earlier in the year.”
Ricky Stuart was candid about his Raiders side, admitting there were not many positives to take from the game.
“I don’t see many positives out of that game we let ourselves down,” Stuart said.
“We talk about the benchmark we set ourselves and improving and we went backwards tonight.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Jason Taumalolo
2. Jack Wighton
- Michael Morgan