A mid-table tussle between the Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys was seen by many as the appetiser ahead of the Eels v. Roosters main event to come later in the evening. But the two sides, currently placed in ninth and tenth, knew that the two points could see them climb the table.
Both sides made four changes to the sides which lost out on round five as they looked to find some form and register a season turning win.
Few would have predicted a game of two such contrasting halves.
Just ninety seconds into the game Wests were in the lead as Zane Musgrove found a gap in the line to take a Josh Reynolds pass and drop over the line for an astonishingly easy try. The Cowboys still mentally in the changing room. Moses Mbye added the conversion for 6-0.
On seven minutes the Tigers were in for their second when Joseph Leilua took a delayed pass from Adam Doueihi to hand off the tackler and run the arc for ten metres to score. Mbye converted from the touchline as the Tigers streaked into a 12-0 lead.
The sensational start for the Tigers continued on fifteen when a forty metre Mbye break allowed him to find an inside pass to Luke Brooks to run freely to the line and score under the sticks. Mbye added the goal for 18-0, Wests fans couldn’t have dreamed such a great start.
On twenty-four minutes it was twenty-four points Josh Aloiai going over by the right upright after the referee had wiped the tackle count down to zero. Mbye kicked the easy conversion and the Cowboys nightmare deepened.
Just under the half hour mark and the point a minute Tigers display continued with Robert Jenning taking an Mbye pass to go over on the overlap. Mbye smacked his conversion between the uprights from the left touchline, the Cowboys not at the races.
On thirty-four the rout become a massacre. A chipped kick from Josh Drinkwater, to the left corner flag, hit Esan Marsters knees and went over the line with Mbye winning the race to the bouncing ball to get his hand on the ball and ground. Mbye missed his first kick of the evening, Wests 34-0 ahead.
After fifty minutes of play the Cowboys looked to have scored their first try but Connelly Lemuelu put a foot in touch in the act of scoring. The only luck that North Queensland were having was bad luck.
On fifty-three a Drinkwater interception did allow the Cowboys to register their first try. Drinkwater picked out a Reynolds pass on his own ten metre line and went the length of the pitch to score. Kyle Feldt added the goal for 6-34.
A Jake Clifford kick to the corner on fifty-six was collected by Feldt who dropped to the ground for an easy try. Feldt was unable to add the conversion, his side still twenty-four points adrift.
On fifty-nine Feldt scored his second in three minutes as he burrowed under the Tigers defenders to ground the ball on the line by the right corner flag. With Feldt receiving treatments for a knock he picked up in scoring, Jake Clifford took the kick but was unable to add the extras. The incident on Feldt resulted in an eight-point try and Clifford kicked the penalty from under the uprights to narrow the margin to three converted tries.
The Tigers steadied the ship with an Mbye penalty when the Cowboys obstructed a kick through.
Four minutes from the final hooter and the Cowboys got their fourth consecutive try when Marsters collected a Clifford grubber kick to ground. The kick was again wide of the posts, the final score 36-22 to Wests as they held on at the end after a tremendous second half fight back by the Cowboys.
Wests Tigers: Doueihi, Nofoaluma, Leilua J (T), Mbye (T, 6G), Jennings (T), Reynolds, Brooks (T), Aloiai (T), Grant, Musgrove (T), Leilua L, Garner, Twal. Subs: McIntyre, Eisenhuth, Mikaele, Chee-Kam.
North Queensland Cowboys: Lemuelu, Feldt (2T, G), O’Neill, Marsters, Tabuai-Fidow, Drinkwater (T), Clifford (G), Molo, Robson, Dunn, Hess, McGuire, Taumalolo. Subs: Hola, Hampton, Jensen, Cooper.
Referee: Henry Perenara.
Ground: Campbelltown Stadium, Sydney.