A try on debut for Ben Mathiou and another in his comeback game for Patrick Kaufusi were two of the highlights in the Toyota Cowboys’ comprehensive 46-20 win against Canterbury in tonight’s NYC clash at ANZ Stadium.
Both forwards crossed in the second half as North Queensland overwhelmed the last-placed Bulldogs by turning a four-point half-time lead into their sixth win of the season, four of those away from 1300SMILES Stadium.
Kaufusi played 50 minutes in his first game since rupturing his pectoral muscle in round one against Canberra, while Mathiou earned his first call-up to the under-20s after putting in hour after hour of rehabilitation following two shoulder reconstructions.
His try close to the posts – the first of the second 40 – came only minutes into his debut.
Back-up hooker Delayne Ashby also provided some positive impact off the bench for the Cowboys, plunging over from dummy-half to put his team 16 points up with half an hour remaining.
Kaufusi and starting hooker Josh Chudleigh sealed the win with their tries in the final five minutes, taking their team’s total for the night to eight.
Chasing their first win in almost two months, NQ were shaky early on against an equally desperate Dogs lineup.
After conceding the first penalty, they also conceded the first try with Bulldogs back-rower Shaun Lane going over out wide before five minutes had ticked by.
However the visitors hit back quickly via fullback Yamba Bowie, who finished off a linebreak by front-rower Viliame Kikau to give Corey Jensen the simplest of conversions to put NQ 6-4 up after eight.
The Cowboys were in again almost straight from the restart – mid-season signing Akeripa Tia Kilifi completing a backline movement for his first try with his new club.
Jensen nailed the kick from touch to build the lead to eight.
When Tia Kilifi collected his second try – and the Cowboys’ third – a brilliant 10 minutes of football had given NQ a 16-4 lead with the points coming at almost a point a minute.
It was a Cowboys error 25 metres from their own line that ended their momentum and then their defence – which hadn’t been called on to do too much since the opening stages – allowed front-rower Jake Kamire through and the Dogs were back to within six points.
Winger Dujuan Manuel-Liolevave levelled it up for the home team with the sixth try of the game on the back of a stripping penalty but the Cowboys soon hit back.
This time, Tia Kilifi was the provider, with a kick ahead creating a four-pointer for his winger Conor Carey.
The Dogs were limited to just one try – a long-range effort from halfback Guy Hamilton in the 71stminute – in the second half.
NYC COWBOYS: 1 Yamba Bowie, 2 Samsen O’Neill, 3 Lenny Magey, 4 Akeripa Tia Kilifi, 5 Conor Carey, 6 Ty Carucci, 7 Cooper Bambling, 8 Viliame Kikau, 9 Josh Chudleigh, 10 Patrick Kaufusi, 11 Coen Hess, 12 Corey Jensen, 13 Jack Kelleher (c). Interchange: 14 Delayne Ashby, 15 Andrew Niemoeller, 16 David Munro, 18 Ben Mathiou.