Match Report: Thurston breaks Raiders hearts
A last minute field goal to Jonathon Thurston has heartbreakingly seen the Raiders fall 21-20 to the North Queensland Cowboys in front of 10,170 spectators at GIO Stadium.
A strong defensive display was a shining light with the Raiders only conceding one try in the forty. A strong kicking game from Sam Williams was also a pleasing sight for the Raiders supporters.
North Queensland were able to open the scoring after getting a repeat set and then Johnathan Thurston placing a precise kick that found Antonio Winterstein in the open on the wing to score in the corner. Thurston was not able to convert to leave the score at 4-0 to the Cowboys.
After back-to-back repeat sets the Raiders defence managed to prevent them from scoring a try however the Raiders gave away a penalty for holding down in the tackle Thurston stepped up to kick the penalty goal for a 6-0 lead.
The Raiders showed plenty of ticket and got themselves onto the scoreboard in the 20th minute. Quick ball movement down from the Green Machine down the blind side saw Edrick Lee in the clear and the charismatic winger ran around to score next to the posts to set up an easier conversion for Jarrod Croker which he was successful with.
In an end to a hostile first half Blake Austin gave away a penalty for holding Gavin Cooper’s leg and slowing the play the ball. Thurston once again step up to take the penalty shot at goal and converted to give the Cowboys an 8-6 lead at half-time.
The Raiders started the second half in great fashion scoring in the 43rd minute. Jordan Rapana made a break down the wing and placed a kick through that found an open Blake Austin who ran in under the posts to score. Croker stepped up to convert for a 12-8 lead.
The Cowboys were able to hit back in the 52nd minute however when Jake Granville found a hole in the Raiders defence and passed the ball off to Matthew Wright who scored under the posts. Thurston was able to convert for a 14-12 lead to the Cowboys.
The Raiders regained the lead in the 58th minute after some quick thinking by Edrick Lee. After Williams put a kick up into the corner Lee knocked back the ball into the waiting arms of Jack Wighton who scored. With the Croker conversion being successful that put the Raiders back in front 18-14.
The back-and-forth try scoring continued with the Cowboys going over in the 64th minute after back-to-back penalties were given away by Canberra. The Raiders were almost able to withstand the pressure and hold out the Cowboys attack on their line until a short ball from Lachlan Coote put Cooper across. Thurston converted to once again give the Cowboys a two point lead.
After Thurston took out Rapana in the air the Raiders were awarded a penalty and Croker stepped up to take the shot at goal and successfully converted to level scores at 20-all with just two minutes to go.
After two unsuccessful attempts at field goal, both of which were charged down by a desperate Sia Soliola, Thurston took another shot at a field goal right on full-time and was successful, breaking the hearts of Raiders players and fans alike.
North Queensland Cowboys 21 (Winterstein, Wright, Cooper Tries; Thruston 4/5 Goals; Thurston 1 Field Goal) defeated Canberra Raiders 20 (Lee, Austin, Wighton Tries; Croker 4/4 Goals)