The Cowboys continued their resurgence with a thrilling 27-23 golden point victory over the Panthers in Townsville on Friday night.
On the back of an impressive win over Melbourne in Round 14, the Cowboys recovered from 20-12 down at half-time to claim another big scalp thanks to a superb solo try by Scott Drinkwater with two minutes to play in extra time.
In the absence of their Origin stars it was playmaker Tom Dearden and returning big man Jason Taumalolo who came to the fore as the Cowboys racked up a seventh win of the season.
In the early going it was the Panthers striking first after just three minutes on the back of a penalty against Chad Townsend for late contact on Jack Cogger after he had put in a kick.
On the ensuing set the Panthers marched down field and Cogger launched a kick which was spilled by Zac Laybutt, with Izack Tago picking up the scraps to score his fifth try of the season.
What a finish!
The home side hit back in the 13th minute when Dearden split the Panthers defence and send a perfectly timed pass inside for Drinkwater to score. Townsend converted to level the scores at 6-6.
Panthers powerhouse Spencer Leniu got the ball over the line in the 18th minute but was penalised for a double movement and the Cowboys came away.
Midway through the half the Cowboys had a second try when Laybutt put Kyle Feldt away down the left and the veteran winger sent a pinpoint kick back inside for Dearden to gather and score.
Tago opens the scoring
Come the 25th minute and the premiers hit back when a left side shift featuring Dylan Edwards and Jaeman Salmon finished with Tago getting a free run to the line for his second try. Cogger failed to convert and the Cowboys led 12-10.
A dropped ball by Semi Valemei in the 30th minute handed the Panthers field possession and they capitalised through Salmon, who broke through a couple of flimsy tackles from close range and the visitors led 16-12.
Playing in just his second NRL match, Panthers winger Tom Jenkins had his first try when he crossed in the right hand corner after good lead-up by Salmon, Edwards and Tago.
After leading 20-12 at the break the Panthers stretched their lead to 10 points when Valemei was penalised for getting in front of the kicker on a short dropout and Cogger slotted the goal.
A first career try to Kulikefu Finefeuiaki in the 54th minute put the Cowboys right back in the contest at 22-18.
The home side drew level in the 63rd minute when Feldt flew into the left corner before the teams traded sets in an attempt to break the deadlock.
The Panther machine clicks
The Cowboys had a long range shot at field goal fall short before Cogger's attempt for the Panthers was charged down.
With 90 seconds remaining it was Townsend who stood tall for the Cowboys, slotting his 15th career field goal to make it 23-22.
Cogger then had another field goal attempt charged down but the ball rebounded to the Panthers who set for a shot again and the fill-in halfback nailed it to send the game to golden point.
Finefeuiaki muscles over
A dropped ball by Edwards on the halfway mark in the Panthers' first set handed the home side a golden opportunity but Luciano Leilua made a mistake on the second tackle to hand Edwards a shot at redemption but his field goal attempt sailed wide.
A penalty against the Panthers for a strip then gave Feldt a shot from halfway but the kick was well wide of the mark and the battle continued.
With two minutes to play in the second period a dropped ball by Tyrone Peachey gave the Cowboys possession and Drinkwater made the premiers pay with a weaving run to the line from 30 metres out to secure a stunning 27-23 win.
Match: Cowboys v Panthers
Round 16 -
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
- Panthers winger Sunia Turuva left the field for a HIA in the 17th minute after collecting the knee of Semi Valemei on a kick chase. Turuva passed his HIA.
- Jason Taumalolo came off the Cowboys bench in the 27th minute in his first game for nine weeks. He played 58 minutes in his comeback match and ran for 179 metres.
- Co-captain Dylan Edwards set the tone for the Panthers in the opening 40 minutes with 14 runs for 149 metres. He finished the night with 324 run metres.
- Panthers winger Sunia Turuva had nine tackle breaks in the first half and finished the night with 17.
Salmon slips through
- The Cowboys missed 63 tackles for the night compared to 40 by the Panthers.
- Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt has scored eight tries in his past seven games.
- The Cowboys have won six from eight at QCB Stadium this season.
- Cowboys back-rower Heilum Luki went for a HIA in the 49th minute which he passed. He did not return to the field due to concerns he may have suffered a facial fracture in the collision.
- Scott Drinkwater and Kyle Feldt ran for 424 metres between them for the Cowboys.
Feldt takes flight
Play of the Game
A slashing try by Tom Dearden in the 20th minute had the Cowboys fans on their feet. Prolific winger Kyle Feldt, who boasts 124 career tries, turned provider for this one with a perfectly placed kick back infield for his No.6 to score. Young centre Zac Laybutt also played a big part in the try with a clever offload to Feldt, who dropped the ball onto his right boot as the cover defence converged. The try assist was Feldt's first of the season and showed a touch of class with the boot that any playmaker would be proud of.
Dearden and Feldt combine
What they Said
"When we were down eight points at half-time I challenged the lads to stand up together as a team and I thought they did that and fought very hard. I thought Zac Laybutt was very strong fior us, Griffin Neame played some extra minutes than usual and was a real threat for us. I thought a couple of the older boys were really good for us too - Jakey Granville 90 minutes at hooker, good to have Jase [Taumalolo] back and he had some really important carries for us when it mattered. Good to have him back. He gives everyone confidence." - Cowboys coach Todd Payten
Cowboys: Round 16
"I thought we were in a position to win that game and we opened the door in various ways and we got what we got in the end. At 22-12 we offered up opportunities and weren't resilient enough defensively, it's not really what we're about. Some young guys came up with some really good stuff tonight but as a club we pride ourselves on resilience in defence and controlling things a little bit better than that." - Panthers coach Ivan Cleary
Panthers: Round 16
The Cowboys travel to Sydney in Round 17 for a Sunday showdown with the Rabbitohs at Accor Stadium. The Panthers are at home against the Knights on Saturday night so their Origin players will have just two days to recover if they are to back up.