The North Queensland Cowboys came into Round 7 desperate for a win after losing the last three games straight and got the win over the Newcastle Knights.
They were quite rightfully underdogs up against a Knights side that he been on roll and looked like they might finally deliver on their potential.
After weathering some early pressure from the Knights it was the Cowboys who scored first.
Quick hands from Scott Drinkwater and rookie fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow created an overlap that resulted in Justin O’Neill crossing over for an easy four pointer.
The Cowboys aggressive defence and ruck speed forced the Knights into making multiple errors.
They eventually giving up a penalty, allowing Kyle Feldt to give the Cowboys an 8 point lead.
As a result of the Cowboys momentum, hooker Reece Robson busted through the Knights ruck defence, drawing in Kalyn Ponga to set up Tabuai-Fidow for his first NRL try.
Five minutes later, Jake Clifford took advantage of some soft Newcastle defence to break the line, beating Ponga and Kurt Mann, on his way to a stunning solo try.
It appeared as though the Knights were finally getting themselves into the game as the wrestled back some control over the last 10 minutes of the first half.
But due to some poor last tackle plays, they weren’t able to capitalise on that field position.
It was then Clifford again who made the Knights pay with a pin point bomb.
A flying Feldt beat Knights winger Edrick Lee to the ball to give the Cowboys a 26 – 0 lead at halftime.
The Knights, who hadn’t really played from behind at all this season, needed to be first to score after halftime.
They managed to do that when Tex Hoy crossed over after a Lachlan Fitzgibbon line-break opened up the Cowboys.
Any chance of the Knights making a come back was put to bed when the Cowboys scored a crucial try through a rampaging Coen Hess only minutes later.
The Knights fought hard to chase down the Cowboys.
They kept the hope alive through tries to Hymel Hunt, Kurt Mann and Gehamat Shibasaki.
But ultimately, the Knights couldn’t convert their opportunities in the final ten minutes.
That was in large part thanks to Jason Taumalolo who put in another monster performance, running 297 metres and making 31 tackles.
The Cowboys were able to close out the game to record their second win of the season, relieving pressure on coach Paul Green, at least for now.
Although they won’t be able to dwell on this game with the Eels just around the corner.
The Knights will need to regroup quickly with Manly on the horizon.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was pleased with how his side bounced back, knowing the last few weeks have been poor.
“I’m extremely proud because a lot of people had a lot of questions over us and rightly so,” Green said.
“Our performance wasn’t acceptable last week.
“But if you really care then where you show it is out on the paddock and we did that today.
“We were completely dominant in that first half.”
Not one to mince his words, Knights coach Adam O’Brien lamented his side for their complacency.
“We had a nine-day turnaround [between games] so we gave some players time off, which they deserved,” O’Brien said.
“… But I reckon it probably set the tone for our week. We weren’t prepared to roll the sleeves up and credit to the Cowboys, they were.
“They were willing to fight really hard for everything and I just think we wanted to get to the end result too quick.”
NRL News Player of the Game.
3 – Jake Clifford
2 – Jason Taumalolo
1 – Josh McGuire