Warriors Hold on Against Crippled Cowboys

The North Queensland Cowboys and the New Zealand Warriors went head to head in the first game of Friday football, coming from 1300SMILES Stadium up in Townsville. The Cowboys were looking for blood, with a shocking loss last week against the Parramatta Eels fresh in the minds of the players. On the other hand, the Warriors were coming off a convincing win against the Manly Sea Eagles down in Christchurch and were looking to make it two away wins in a row this week.

Both teams were forced to make a single change through injury, both of which in the lead up to kick off. The Cowboys had to make a change in the last hour, as Matt Scott was ruled out on gameday. Sam Hoare came into the starting thirteen from the bench as Francis Molo came onto the bench. The Warriors would lose David Fusitua the day before gameday with an ankle injury, as Gerard Beale moved onto the wing.

It would be a hectic first half, with points and injuries being a huge talking point. The Cowboys would take a penalty goal to get the game goal after 11 minutes from right in front, with the Warriors going on to score 18 of the next 24 points in the half.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was key for the Warriors, having a hand in every Warriors try of the first half. The first try would go to Ken Maumalo, making up for the loss of Fusitua as he went over in the left hand corner thanks to a wrap-around play from Blake Green and Tuivasa-Sheck. Johnson brought his kicking boots on the trip to Townsville, sinking his 3 attempts in the first half.

Tuivasa-Sheck would then get a try for himself just four minutes later, screaming straight through the Cowboys defense and making Michael Morgan look like an absolute goofball on his 70 metre run to make it 12-2 after 24 minutes. In saying that, Morgan would reportedly tear his bicep trying to tackle the Warriors fullback in a huge blow for the Cowboys and Queensland.

Tuivasa-Sheck would then dart down the left side and put Solomone Kata straight through the Cowboys defense, cutting back in to go over and make it 18-2 after 28 minutes. Kyle Feldt, playing fullback for the injured Morgan, would put Javid Bowen over for his first try of the season to make it 18-8 and finish one of the more exciting halves of football this season.

The second half would start just as the first half ended, with the Cowboys going over two minutes after the break through a dummy half run from Kyle Feldt. The makeshift fullback would break the tackle of Ken Maumalo to power over from close range, with Thurston missing the kick to make it 18-12 with plenty of time left.

Shaun Johnson would sink a penalty goal from 30 metres out to make it 20-12, however the Warriors would lose Solomone Kata with what looked to be a strained hamstring 13 minutes after the break. That would be all that the Cowboys needs, with the Cowboys harassing the Warriors try line for a solid 10 minutes. It would turn out to reward the Cowboys, with Te Maire Martin intercepting a bobbled pass from Blake Green to run 80 metres and lob a pass over to Kyle Feldt for his second try of the night. Thurston would shank the kick to leave it poised at 20-16 with 18 minutes left.

Jonathon Thurston thought he had tied the game up 2 minutes later, with the try going upstairs and the bunker deeming that Jason Taumololo had a loose carry and knocked on. It would be compounded by a dissent penalty against Kyle Feldt as they had the ball, with the Warriors kicking a penalty goal to make it 22-16. The Cowboys would throw everything, including the kitchen sink at the Warriors goal line defense, with the Warriors somehow holding strong for what was 10 minutes of sitting in their own half.

They would be back on their own line though, with a Blake Green knock on 40 metres out with 4 minutes left giving the Cowboys another opportunity at the sticks. It wouldn't come to fruition, with a Te Maire Martin kick bouncing like a pinball and being ruled to be a knock on. Thurston would attempt to charge down the ensuring kick on last, only for it to come off him and into touch. Shaun Johnson would sink a field goal with just 57 seconds left to seal the 23-16 win for the Warriors.

Ben Hampton, Michael Morgan and Kyle Feldt would all be injured during the game as the Cowboys go to lick their wounds and figure out what went wrong.The Warriors will be taking on the Sharks in two weeks time, potentially without their biggest stars at home while the Cowboys finals hope are officially dead as they take on the Rabbitohs at Barlow Park.



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