A Northern Pride team bolstered by six NRL-contracted Cowboys managed to see off the Mackay Cutters 22-20 in their Intrust Super Cup pre-season trial in Townsville tonight.
In their last hitout before the start of the season proper in a fortnight, the Pride started strongly to lead the reigning premiers 18-0 before falling 20-18 behind thanks to four consecutive Cutters tries.
Former Cowboy Blake Leary muscled over to score the match-winning try with three minutes left.
Coming off a loss to the PNG Hunters in their previous trial, the Pride included Cowboys Ethan Lowe, Ricky Thorby, Scott Bolton, Cameron King, Matthew Wright and Patrick Kaufusi in their lineup, while Sam Hoare, John Asiata, Ashton Sims and Glenn Hall played for the Cutters.
Many of those Cowboys, who all appeared to get through the match injury-free, will get another chance to impress the coaching staff in next Saturday night’s NRL trial against the Gold Coast Titans in Toowoomba.
With NQ assistant coaches Terry Matterson and Adrian Thomson watching on, Wright featured in the Pride’s first try to Justin Castellaro before David Crampton, who spent the first half of pre-season on a train and trial contract with the Cowboys, added a second just before the midway point in the first half.
Prop Ben Spina made it 18-0 but the points dried up for the Cairns-based team who saw their lead substantially cut by tries to Hayden Crockett and Chris Ulugia either side of the break.
Mackay seemed to have all the momentum going their way when James Uhatafe went the length of the field for his team’s third and an offload from Hoare put Josh Benjamin in to lock it up at 18-all.
Liam Taylor’s conversion gave the Cutters an unlikely lead, but they weren’t able to hold on for their first win of the pre-season thanks to Leary’s late four-pointer.