A monster field goal from Valentine Holmes has secured a 29-28 victory for the North Queensland Cowboys against the New Zealand Warriors in Townsville.

Entering the clash on the back of four consecutive home wins, the Cowboys’ top eight chances took an early blow as Kodi Nikorima sent Euan Aitken over after just two minutes of play.

North Queensland were soon able to level the scores via Kyle Feldt, who received a tip-on from Mitchell Dunn and scored with a flamboyant dive for the corner.

The Cowboys then hit the front through a slick right-to-left shift that ended with Murray Taulagi scoring his fourth try in two weeks.

The defining moment of the first half came when Jazz Tevaga was put in the sin bin after placing a sloppy late hit on Jake Clifford, which opened the door for the Cowboys to extend their lead.

The home team gladly accepted the opportunity, with Clifford chasing his own grubber kick to snag a try in what appeared to be his last game for North Queensland.

Not to be outdone by his halves partner, Scott Drinkwater then weaved his way through the defence and ran 45 metres to the line, gifting his side a convincing 22-6 lead at halftime.

Nathan Brown’s halftime address appeared to have inspired his side coming out of the sheds, with the Warriors completing a dramatic momentum swing with two quick tries.

Young gun Reece Walsh was pivotal in both plays, first showing some swift footwork to create the space for Euan Aitken to complete his double.

Walsh then received the ball from Marcelo Montoya and raced 90 metres to score a scintillating long-range try, which was almost denied by a gallant chase from Cowboys rookie Heilum Luki.

Seizing the momentum of the match, the Warriors tied the game in the 57th minute through Marcelo Montoya, who received a perfect cutout ball from Walsh before stepping past Kyle Feldt.

Ben Murdoch-Masila then latched onto a short ball from Wayde Egan and crashed over Jake Clifford to take the lead for the Warriors.

However, with time slipping away, the Cowboys pulled out their trump card in the form of Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

The man known as ‘The Hammer’ slipped past Euan Aitken on the left wing before performing an ankle-breaking juke on Reece Walsh and racing away to even the scores with just four minutes to play.

A contentious knock-on provided the Warriors with terrific field position, but Chanel Harris-Tavita’s field goal attempt flew to the left of the upright.

On the ensuing seven-tackle set, the Cowboys marched downfield to leave their star fullback with a 40 metre attempt to win the match.

Valentine Holmes proceeded to kick one of the most sweetly struck field goals of recent memory, with the ball sailing between the posts and landing deep within the parochial Cowboys’ crowd.

Holmes’ field goal saw the Cowboys move into seventh place on the ladder, which is a remarkable result considering the club lost its first four matches of the season.

At full time, coach Todd Payten strongly hinted that Jake Clifford had played his last game for the club, with Tom Dearden expected to start in the halves next week as Clifford moves to Newcastle.

For Nathan Brown’s men, their struggle to build momentum continues as the club failed to register back-to-back wins for the fifth separate occasion this year.

Like the Cowboys, the Warriors will not play in the Origin-affected Round 13, with both clubs receiving the bye and a much-needed chance to rest before their next matches in mid-June.

NRL News Player of the Game:

3 Points – Valentine Holmes – Plenty of strong performers from both sides, but hard to go past the fullback who had two try assists and iced the result with his stunning field goal.

2 Points – Reece Walsh – The young livewire again sparked the Warriors to life and led the comeback charge in the second half with one try, one try assist, and one try contribution.

1 Point – Wayde Egan – Egan’s performance wasn’t flashy, but it kept the Warriors alive throughout the match. 49 tackles and a try assist rounded out a handy outing for the hooker.

All stats courtesy of Fox Sports Lab.

New Zealand Warriors fullback Reece Walsh

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