A try with their last play of the game gave the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys NYC team a thrilling 22-20 win against the Melbourne Storm at 1300SMILES Stadium tonight.
Down by two when they packed a scrum with 90 seconds left on the clock, the Cowboys worked their way 60 metres downfield in five tackles before a pinpoint Delayne Ashby crosskick ended in the hands of Scott Schulte, who held off two Storm defenders to score in the left corner.
The victory was the Cowboys’ second in a row and their first at home since they beat Canberra in round one.
In wet conditions that made ball control difficult, the only points in the first half hour came thanks to a strong run by NQ front-rower Viliame Kikau who barged his way over in the 19th minute.
Corey Jensen added the conversion to give the home team a 6-0 lead.
It took the Storm until three minutes before half time before they managed to break through, halfback Jake Turpin going through what until then had been a solid NQ defensive line untouched.
However, Melbourne botched the resulting kick off and the Cowboys cashed in via centre Conor Carey who won the race to a Delayne Ashby grubber kick into the in-goal.
Up 12-6 at half time, the Cowboys jumped 12 clear when an Alex Grant kick-ahead bounced off the goal post back to a sliding Yamba Bowie who handled the slippery ball with aplomb to post his team’s third try.
The Storm needed to score next and they succeeded with back-rower Nelson Asofa-Solomona proving to be too strong close to the line for the Cowboys to stop.
With superior ball control, Melbourne made it three tries in quick time to take the lead with 12 to go.
Winger Junior Kirisome then right centre Niua Finau Puaka crossed to have the Storm 20-18 up before Ashby and Schulte combined to produce the Cowboys’ late escape act.
Regan Grieve made his debut off the bench for NQ and didn’t look out of place, but the Cowboys’ best was back-rower David Munro, who capped a wholehearted game by producing a great charge forward in the final set to get his team into position for a shot at a match-winning try.