The South Sydney Rabbitohs have gone down to the North Queensland Cowboys by 30-12 in Monday Night Football after leading 12-4 at half-time at ANZ Stadium.
Playing without the likes of Adam Reynolds, Dylan Walker and John Sutton, the re-shuffled Rabbitohs looked promising in the early stages of the clash, with the new halves pairing of Glenn Stewart and Luke Keary orchestrating play fluently, while the forwards ran with intent. But the night ultimately belonged to North Queensland in front of the crowd of 13,866.
Some brilliant running from the Rabbitohs forwards coupled with a penalty saw the side march 100 metres inside the first two minutes of the match, and eventually resulted in Dave Tyrrell scoring his sixth career try in what was a barnstorming opening to the Round 6 clash. Issac Luke converted from next to the sticks to make it 6-0 in favour of the red and greens.
The Cowboys hit back inside the first 10 minutes though when two consecutive penalties gifted the visitors field position, before Johnathan Thurston kicked for the wing of Justin O’Neil who took the ball in the air to score in the corner. Thurston’s conversion attempt was waves away to leave the Rabbitohs in front 6-4.
An Issac Luke intercept would be the catalyst for the side’s next points, with the hooker being mowed down on the 20 metre line. From the next tackle, Stewart combined with Inglis down the short side, before Inglis sent a bullet-like cut-out pass to Johnston on the wing to score. Luke slotted a booming conversion from the touch-line to make it 12-4.
The Cowboys went back on the attack through a dangerous-looking right side combination that had the Rabbitohs at sixes and sevens. With the visitors looking certain to score, Joel Reddy pulled off an important try-saver right over the line to keep the score-board stagnant.
A penalty to North Queensland on the last tackle kept Souths under pressure for another set of six though, but the red and green line managed to hold strong.
Ill-discipline was costing both sides field position, but Inglis was about to give the Cowboys a scare when the skipper went from dummy-half just a metre from the line. Match officials sent the try to the video referee, and eventually ruled against the try judging that Inglis had lost control of the ball.
The Cowboys would have a four-pointer of their own denied on the stroke of half-time though for an obstruction – the sides going to the sheds with Souths leading 12-4.
The second half started poorly for the Rabbitohs when Cowboy Gavin Cooper sliced through the line before passing on to Thurston who raced in under the sticks in the very first set. Thurston converted his own try to make it 12-10. Not long afterwards, a penalty to the Cowboys 26 metres out saw Thurston opt to take the kick – the Test half making no mistake to equalise.
A promising attacking raid from Souths saw a Luke Keary kick diffused by the Cowboys on the last tackle, but replays showed that a flying Reddy was intentionally taken out in back-play as he fought to contest for the ball. No penalty was given, and the Cowboys were about to benefit.
Antonio Winterstein doubled North Queensland’s luck after some brilliant back-line support play saw the ball go through a number of hands before crossing the stripe. Thurston added the extras millimetres in from touch to give the Cowboys an 18-12 lead.
The Cowboys were in again with eight minutes left when Thurston grabbed his second of the night by finishing off a break before adding the extras to make it 24-12.
But it didn’t stop there, with Cowboys hooker Jake Granville racing some 60 metres from dummy-half to seal the match. Thurston was on song again with the boot to make the final score 30-12.
Cowboys 30 (Justin O’Neil, Johnathan Thurston 2, Antonio Winterstein, Jake Granville, tries; Johnathan Thurston 5 goals)
Rabbitohs 12 (Dave Tyrrell, Alex Johnston, tries; Issac Luke 2 goals)