Two tries in the final 10 minutes, including a third try of the afternoon to fullback Matt Dufty, enabled the St George Illawarra Dragons to beat the North Queensland Cowboys 30-20 in the round 17 NYC clash at WIN Jubilee Oval this afternoon.
Trying to end a three-game losing streak, the Cowboys had some key moments go against them in the second half, including a controversial overturned try by fullback Yamba Bowie.
Another game changer came with eight to go when a 40-20 kick led to the four-pointer that gave the Dragons the lead after the Cowboys had fought back to 20-all.
Starting the round in fifth place on the under-20s ladder, St George Illawarra scored first with Dufty showing some speed to get through the Cowboys in the fourth minute – the try coming on the back of two straight penalties for the home team.
Josh Chudleigh came close to a quick hit back for NQ but was held up over the try line, and the Dragons’ lead soon went to 10 when Dufty provided the final pass for winger Rowland Kotobalavu to stroll over in the set after their first 40-20 of the match.
Steadying following a poor start, the Cowboys’ first points came at the 25-minute mark thanks to an angled grubber kick from Delayne Ashby that Samsen O’Neill managed to get a hand to just before the deadball line.
Corey Jensen missed the conversion shot from out wide to leave the Cowboys 10-4 down.
Back-rower Wes Lolo went almost 40 metres to add a third try for the Dragons but the Cowboys response was a quick one with bench prop Michael Barclay spinning his way across to score under the posts.
NQ went into half time trailing by just four, 14-10.
The Cowboys made it back-to-back tries either side of the break when Kieran Quabba crashed over after the Dragons sent a dropout over the sideline on the full.
Jensen added the two to put his team 16-14 up with 35 minutes remaining.
The lead could have jumped to eight shortly after, but instead, in a huge turnaround of fortunes, the Dragons added a runaway try to regain their advantage.
NQ fullback Yamba Bowie lost the ball over the line, denying NQ a third straight four-pointer.
The quick-thinking Dufty took the resulting 20-metre tap for the Dragons, catching out the NQ defence, and raced 80 metres to score.
What could have been a 22-14 lead for the Cowboys was now a 20-16 deficit.
There was a further setback for the visitors when they had a possible try to Bowie overturned for an obstruction in the lead-up after the Dragons successfully used their captain’s challenge.
Scott Schulte eventually provided an equalising try for the Cowboys in the left corner with a quarter of an hour to go.
The Dragons’ second 40-20 produced the same result as the first – a four-pointer – this time to centre Sitiveni Moceidreke.
The conversion handed the Dragons a six-point gap to defend in the final seven minutes.
They did better than just hang on, with Dufty spearing through for his third to seal the victory.