The North Queensland Cowboys defeated the Canberra Raiders 26-24 on Saturday night at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
Despite leading 24-6 just before halftime, the Raiders were unable to hold onto their lead and were kept scoreless in the second half as they conceded 20 unanswered points.
The Raiders experienced a slow start to the game, conceding three errors in the opening ten minutes of play.
But the Raiders then opened the scoring through winger Jordan Rapana, who found the try line after a beautiful cut-out pass from backrower Elliott Whitehead. Jarrod Croker converted to give the Raiders an early 6-0 lead.
The Cowboys took advantage from a Canberra mistake, through a Valentine Homes cut-out pass which found winger Kyle Feldt to hit back. Holmes converted to level the scores 6-all in the opening 20 minutes.
Raiders captain Jarrod Croker saved a certain try, dislodging the ball from Cowboy’s front-rower Coen Hess who chased through a kick and dropped it over the line.
Tom Starling was alert after a Josh Papalii offload close to the line. He then drew and pass to Emre Guler, putting the front-rower over for Canberra’s second try. Croker converted to regain a 12-6 lead.
Jordan Rapana bagged his second try for the night after a beautiful pass from five-eighth Jack Wighton set-up his winger to extend the Raiders lead to 18-6.
The Raiders continued their run of tries through hooker Tom Starling, who broke the Cowboy’s line and connected with halfback George Williams to score under the posts. Croker converted to extend the lead to 24-6.
The Cowboys scored off-the-back-of another Canberra mistake through Ben Condon, who chased through a Scott Drinkwater kick to score right before halftime. Holmes converted to make it 24-12 at halftime.
The Cowboys came out firing in the second half applying pressure to the Raiders in the opening set. Reece Robson identified space and dove over from dummy-half to take the score to within a converted try, 24-18.
The match entered an arm-wrestle of field position with both sides displaying incredible effort.
The Cowboy’s scored a controversial try through Justin O’Neill, who chased a Drinkwater grubber kick to score and level the match 24-all, with 20 minutes remaining.
North Queensland were awarded a penalty in-front of the posts for a late tackle on halfback Ben Hampton. Valentine Holmes converted a penalty goal to give the home side their first lead of the game 26-24, with 10 minutes remaining.
The Cowboys held onto the two-point lead to close-out the 26-24 victory over the Canberra Raiders.