The North Queensland Cowboys have withstood a late fightback from the Canberra Raiders to record a one-point victory in their opening game of 2023.
In what was your typical game of two halves, the Raiders had to show some defensive mettle in the second half to get back into the contest.
They did some resolve in the opening stages of the first half but eventually cracked when Scott Drinkwater and Val Holmes combined to send Murray Taulagi over.
Chad Townsend then capitalised on a fast-moving Scott Drinkwater who scooped up the loose ball to score the Cowboys second try and his first.
A Val Holmes penalty goal put the Cowboys up by 12 and seemingly in control.
Drinkwater would grab his second try after some crafty play by Reece Robson from dummy half, his grubber finding the fullback to score.
The Raiders got their glimmer of hope late in the first half when Emre Guler was able to crash over from close range near the posts.
After both sides defended each other’s lines, the Raiders had a second when a kick ricocheted back to Tom Starling, with the hooker going low and hard to the line and grounding the ball.
The equalising try and conversion came when a short kick-off from the Cowboys went horribly wrong, as the ball was propelled forward and picked up by Jack Wighton to scoot around and score.
The winning possession came five minutes from time when, as cool as you like, Townsend slotted the winning field goal for the one-point win.
Although they may have let the Raiders back into the game, Townsend was pleased with the efforts from his Cowboys side.
“Very happy to start 2023 with a win. Credit to this team … really happy with the boys tonight,” said Townsend.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was quick to praise the defensive aptitude of his side, especially in the second half.
“That defence tonight, being game one of the year … that was an unbelievable defensive effort,” said Stuart.
“They way they fought back, the boys have a very proud coach.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Reece Robson (NQL)
2. Tom Starling (CAN)
1. Chad Townsend (NQL)