In a Nutshell
Canberra Raiders caused plenty of problems for the North Queensland Cowboys, leading at half-time but ultimately it was Golden Boot winner Johnathan Thurston who guided the Cowboys to a 28-22 victory.
How it unfolded
The Raiders opened the scoring on nine minutes with a try by winger Edrick Lee, created by fullback Anthony Milford, with Jarrod Croker adding the conversion, and Milford was denied a try by the video referee shortly afterwards, when Michael Morgan managed to get his hand under the ball.
But they did score again when Croker picked up a loose pass from Ray Thompsoon, running almost 60 metres to touch down, and this time he handed the conversion to Reece Robinson, whose kick gave the Raiders a 12-point lead after the first quarter of the game.
The video referee turned down a try for the Cowboys by Thurston, and soon afterwards the Raiders extended their lead to 16 points when Josh Papalli took a sweet ball from Terry Campese, with Robinson missing the conversion.
The Cowboys got on the scoreboard at last after 32 minutes, following a great break by Scotland World Cup star Kane Linnett, with Morgan sending Kyle Feldt in at the corner, with Thurston unable to convert. But Thurston then took a quick tap penalty and scored a brilliant individual try, selling a great dummy to Milford, with his conversion making it a 6-point game at half-time.
The Cowboys looked to be the first to strike in the second half, but Linnett bobbled the ball as he touched down, but they couldn’t be denied soon afterwards when Gavin Cooper was on the end of some great passing. With Thurston’s conversion the scored were level.
And the Cowboys took the lead for the first time when Irish World Cup star Rory Kostjasyn breached the Canberra defence, with Thurston making it a six-point game..
But the Raiders weren’t finished, as Robinson picked up the ball near his own line and ran 90 metres to touch down, but he couldn’t add the conversion, although Milford converted a penalty to level the scores soon afterwards.
In a nailbiting ten minutes it was the Cowboys who registered the decisive score when Thurston fed winger Antonio Winterstein in the corner for a try that was initially disallowed by the referee, but confirmed by the video referee, as Winterstein’s body was over the touch line but he managed to touch down before he landed in touch.
Thurston’s touchline conversion gave a thrilling end to a thrilling game.
Reports on all the weekend’s NRL matches will feature in Rugby League Express on Monday morning, available in the shops and online at www.pocketmags.com