Cowboys hold out Bulldogs' fightback - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cowboys hold out Bulldogs' fightback

31/08/2007 10:15:11 PM Comments (0)

North Queensland has survived a late Bulldogs fightback to celebrate club stalwart Paul Bowman's 200th NRL game with a heart-stopping 38-32 win at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

The Bulldogs looked down and out trailing 38-10 when Cowboys coach Graham Murray opted to rest skipper Johnathan Thurston for the final 20 minutes of the game.

But the home side faltered badly with their star halfback off the field, the Bulldogs scoring four tries in 12 minutes to nearly snatch a remarkable win.

While the Cowboys were already assured of third place before the final round match, the Dogs could now drop as low as seventh with the loss - leaving them facing a sudden-death clash against Manly.

At best, they will likely finish sixth.

But in a further blow to their title hopes, they may yet be without two of their stars for the first week of the finals with international forwards Sonny Bill Williams and Reni Maitua both expected to come under scrutiny from the NRL judiciary.

Williams may have the most to worry about after he was placed on report for a late, high shot on Thurston.

The Cowboys halfback had just launched a mid-field bomb when Williams connected with his forearm to the side of Thurston's jaw in the third minute.

Thurston got up immediately - with Williams showing remorse for the hit.

No penalty was blown, but the Kiwi international was eventually put on report by referee Shayne Hayne two minutes later when the incident was reviewed by video referee Tim Mander.

Maitua could find himself in trouble for a lifting tackle in the second half.

The two incidents capped a remarkable see-sawing match which twice saw the Cowboys speed out to healthy leads, only to have the Dogs bite back.

Cowboys winger Ty Williams scored twice in the opening 20 minutes to give the home side a 14-0 lead.

But the Bulldogs - who needed to win the match to stay in the hunt for a top-four finish - struck back with tries to captain Andrew Ryan and centre Daryl Millard to bring the score back to 14-10.

Rampaging North Queensland forward Ray Cashmere then bust through the Dogs defensive line with two minutes remaining in the half to send Ben Farrar over out wide and hand the Cowboys a 20-10 lead in front of 24,050 fans at the break.

The floodgates opened in the second half as the Cowboys raced in three unanswered tries - to Justin Smith, Thurston and Farrar - in the opening 17 minutes to take a 38-10 lead.

But the Dogs again struck back with tries to centre Willie Tonga and Ryan for his second of the night to bring the score back to 38-20.

The Cowboys did everything they could to lose the game as Williams kept the Bulldogs in the hunt by scooping up a loose ball and scoring score untouched under the posts in the 64th minute.

A try to Luke Patten soon after had the Bulldogs in striking distance at 38-32, but they were unable to complete the job with the Cowboys defence holding firm to record a memorable fifth consecutive victory - the club's second longest winning streak since their introduction in 1995.

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