Thirteenth placed North Queensland Cowboys welcomed sixth placed Canberra Raiders to the Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville as both sides looked for the win that would improve their ladder position by a single place.
The Cowboys haven’t won a game in their last four outings but the visitors arrived seeking to extend a two game winning run as they aim for the top four. The Raiders were big favourites with the bookies.
Cowboys coach Josh Hannay made three changes to his side bringing in Lemuelu, Asiata and McLean while Raiders coach Ricky Stuart named Bateman, Scott and Harawita-Naera in his seventeen.
It took just over two minutes for Reece Robson to scoot from acting half-back to push away the Raiders tacklers and crash over the line. Kyle Feldt kicked the conversion and the underdogs had a 6-0 lead.
The Raiders got their first try on twenty-two when Nick Cotric took a pass from John Bateman on his own thirty, pushed aside the attempted tackles, before passing to George Williams who went the remaining forty to get the ball down. Jarrod Croker added the conversion to level the scores at 6-6.
A Croker penalty on thirty-five gave the Raiders the lead for the first time in the game in a close encounter.
The Cowboys regained the lead on fifty as Jason Taumalolo took a short pass from John Asiata to go through a gap and score under the sticks. Feldt added the extras to put North Queensland into a 12-8 lead.
Conberra strick back on sixty-four when Englishmen George Williams and John Bateman found Curtis Scott who fended off his tackler to go five metres and score. Croker converted brilliantly from the touchline to edge his side back into a two-point lead.
North Queensland had their chances in the closing minutes, but some poor decisions and rushed plays meant that they couldn’t breach the Raiders line and Canberra held on to take the two points.
North Queensland Cowboys: Tabuai-Fidow, Feldt (2G), O’Neill, Lemuelu, Taulagi, Hampton, Clifford, McLean, Robson (T), Molo, Wright, Hess, Taumalolo (T). Subs: Dunn, Gilbert, Cooper, Asiata.
Canberra Raiders: Rapana, Valemei, Croker (3G), Scott, Cotric, Wighton, Williams (T), Papalii, Havili, Lui, Bateman, Whitehead, Young. Subs: Starling, Tapine, Sutton, Harawira-Naera.
Referee: Ben Cummins.
Ground: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville.