An injury ravaged Canberra Raiders side has fallen 38-16 to the second placed North Queensland Cowboys at GIO Stadium.
After leading the Cowboys 16-12 at half-time the Raiders were forced to play much of the second half with only one on the bench as the side suffered injuries to several players including Captain Lachlan Croker who went down early with a suspected shoulder injury.
The Raiders were able to hit the scoreboard in the second minute after an early mistake by the Cowboys paved the way for Tevita Pangai Junior to force his way across the line to score. Croker was able to convert to give the Raiders a 6-0 lead within 90 seconds.
The Cowboys were able to hit back quickly on the back of a penalty against the Green Machine. Temone Power was able to push his way across the line and the conversion for Copper Bambling was successful to level the score at 6-6.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, Croker injured his shoulder trying to prevent Power from scoring and was forced out of the game.
Some inventive play from the Raiders from a short kick-off allowed them to get into good field position. From there they were able to get a repeat set after the Cowboys attempted to knock down a pass. The Green Machine capitalised on this and found a way across the line through Dylan McGrath however the conversion attempt from Zac Woolford was unsuccessful, leaving the Raiders with a four point lead.
The Cowboys were able to capitalise on some ill-disciplined Raiders defence to score in the 22nd minute. After receiving back-to-back repeat sets the North Queensland side crossed under the posts through hooker Andrew Niemoeller despite the Raiders defence trying to hold him up. The conversion from Bambling was successful resulting in a 12-10 lead for the Cowboys.
Moments later, a smart kick from Woolford at dummy half saw the Cowboys forced to run the ball into touch allowing the Green Machine to get a repeat set. They took advantage of this with Pangai Junior using his strength to score his second try. Woolford stepped up and converted for a four point lead to the Raiders.
In the final minute of the first half, Raiders fullback Chevi Ellis pulled off a last ditch tackle on Braden Uele to ensure that the Green Machine went into half-time with a 16-12 lead.
After sustained pressure from the Cowboys the Raiders were just unable to hold out the constant attacking pressure with injuries also starting to take their toll. Viliame Kikau was able to take advantage of this and scored. Bambling kicked the conversion for an 18-16 point lead.
The Cowboys kept the pressure on the Raiders and were able to score again in the 55th minute. The North Queensland side put a chip kick in which Akeripa Tia Kilifi was able to regather despite the efforts of the Raiders. The conversion was successful for Bambling again to extend the lead to eight points.
Another try from the Cowboys made the task more difficult for the Green Machine. Gideon Mosby was able to make a strong line break and passed the ball inside to Ross Bella who scored next to the posts for an easy conversion for Bambling, which took the lead out to 30-16.
The Raiders tried to get back into the game however they continued to make errors and the Cowboys were able to cross for their fourth unanswered try as a result. Scott Schulte was able to score in the corner after the ball was spread out wide. The conversion was unsuccessful from Bambling leaving the score at an 18 point lead.
The scoreboard continued to improve for the Cowboys who scored their fifth unanswered try. A quick passing display from Connor Carey and Schulte allowed Carey to score however with the conversion was missed by Kyle Laybutt which entailed that the final score was a 38-16 win to the Cowboys.
Man of The Match: Chevi Ellis
North Queensland Cowboys 38 (Power, Niemoeller, Kikau, Tia Kilifi, Bella, Schulte, Carey Tries; Bambling 5/6, Laybutt 0/1 Goals) defeated Canberra Raiders 16 (Pangai Junior 2, McGrath Tries; Croker 1/1, Woolford 1/2 Goals)