The Cowboys were always expected to get the chocolates on this road trip but early on the Panthers decided they were going to do everything they could to spoil the party.
With the cowboys attacking the Panthers line a rebound kick and runaway try (despite the best efforts of Thurston) put the Panthers on the front foot, and they very quickly turned it into a double, with the Wallace at dummy half experiment paying off as he got quick ball to the short side for Penrith to go over in the corner a couple of minutes later.
In years gone by this would be lights out for North Queensland and you would expect the Panthers to pile the points on. However the new Cowboys, the Cowboys that can travel, kicked into another gear and started to raid the Panthers right edge. A slick move from Thurston and Coote put Bowen over in the 25th minute. Thurston and Coote then switched their attention to the Panthers left side and put O’neil over Just before half time.
The first 10 of the second half was again all Panthers and eventually the valve was released and Merrin went in under the sticks. The affair started to go back and forth after that. A Soward penalty putting the home side up by 6 and the Cowboys quickly struck back via Cooper in the 65th minute to level the scores.
In the 73rd minute the Cowboys were in field goal range, but their kicker was playing the ball. So in a twist of ironic fate former Panther himself Coote, received the ball off the ruck and put the Cowboys up 19-18.
Matt Scott cleared of a crusher tackle in March has a nervous wait ahead to see if he will line up against the Rabbitohs on Friday.
They didn’t let up from there and in the 79th minute sealed the deal with a try on the Panthers left edge.
The Cowboys eventually getting home 23-18.
What we learnt:
The Panthers are more resilient than I thought. It could be coming off the back of their last minute win against the Eels last week. It could be Wallace is working so well out of hooker and could be they rise for better teams particularly at home. it’s probably a combinations of these factors. The Panthers can take plenty away from the game and they will be sure to cause some upsets throughout the year, and NSW could do a lot worse than Soward in a pivot position. For the Panthers their goal will be putting together a full 80 minute performance.
For the Cowboys we learnt that their record on the road in 2015 was no fluke. Considering travel to a suburban Sydney ground is one of the hardest road trips for Queensland sides to make. We learnt that there isn’t only one JT in the Side. The other JT (Jason Taumalolo) seems to get more and more devastating every week. We learnt that when the real JT is in a bind (in the ruck) the Cowboys have second and third options at field goal. This will be ever important with so many close sides this year it wont be the last time we see a field goal decide the result. We also learnt that the Cowboys are still in second gear. Even though they trailed for a majority of the match there was never a point in the match where I felt like North Queensland were out of it. And it felt like when they had to turn it up a gear and put points on they could almost do it at will, attacking both sides of the ruck. The only concern for the Cowboys coming out of this game is Matt Scott (co-captain) on report for a crusher, and being it’s his second charge this year one would find it hard to see how he will escape suspension for the Rabbitohs next Friday.
I didn’t think the game would be that close and it was the Cowboys ball control and completion rate that ultimately won the match. All in all an expected win for the premiers and another 2 points in the bag on their quest for back to back in 2016.