JT leads Cowboys to extra-time victory
North Queensland Cowboys and Brisbane Broncos played out a finals classic at 1300 Smiles Stadium on Friday, as the hosts advanced to week three with a 26-20 victory in extra-time. Brisbane had a two-point lead with two minutes left on the clock, however Matt Gillett’s trip on Jonathan Thurston gave away a penalty which the Cowboys’ skipper knocked over to send the game into extra-time. It was an incredible contest, played at a frantic pace, with both sides dead on their feet in the closing stages. The home side managed to drag themselves over the line though, thanks to the barnstorming runs of Player’s Champion Jason Taumalolo, who’s carry set the platform for the game winner. With a minute of the first half in added time remaining Thurston took on the line, got past Sam Thaiday and slipped a flick pass into the path of Michael Morgan who touched down for the winning try. The visitors were 14-6 up at the break thanks to Andrew McCullough and Jordan Kahu’s efforts cancelling out Coen Hess’ effort, with the Queensland youngster impressing. Justin O’Neils’ five-minute double looked to have seen the Broncos off before Corey Oates came up with a 70 metre try out of nowhere to give them a two-point advantage. Then, Gillett handed JT a penalty before he came up with a great play to send Morgan over in extra-time, rounding off a classic finals encounter. The Cowboys will now progress to face Cronulla Sharks for a place in the grand final, while Corey Parker’s career came to a losing end as his side’s season is over.
Green Machine marches on
Canberra Raiders booked their place in the semi-finals with a hard fought 22-12 victory over Penrith Panthers at GIO Stadium on Saturday, setting up a week three clash with Melbourne Storm. Josh Hodgson beat the odds to pull on the green jersey following an injury scare last week, with influential halfback Blake Austin also returning from a broken hand. It was Austin who opened the scoring, as he took on the line and sold the dummy before reaching out and finding the line. Five minutes before the break Jordan Rapana pounced to open up a 12-point lead, as he chased down Joseph Leilua’s kick. On the other side of the break the Canberra skipper extended the lead, as he took a flat pass from Jack Wighton and managed to free the ball carrying arm and touch down. The Panthers have been a plucky side all season, playing some great adlib football to pick up some scalps along the way. It wasn’t until the hour mark that they showed that though, with Tyrone Peachey getting his side off the mark. Five minutes later they were back in the contest, as they shipped the ball from left to right and sent Dallin Watene Zelezniak over in the corner. The sting was taken out of their comeback by Croker from the tee, and when he added another penalty in the final minute it sent the Raiders fans and players into scenes of celebration as they are now one win away from the grand ginal.