Johnathan Thurston | Photo: Charles Knight ©NRLphotos

Tough start for Cowboys' campaign

The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys' 2015 season has begun with a 28-4 loss to an impressive Sydney Roosters outfit at 1300SMILES Stadium tonight.

It was a tough start to the night for Cowboys debutant Justin O’Neill, who in the seventh minute spilled a Mitchell Pearce bomb and handed the Roosters perfect position 10 out from the line.

From the ensuing set of six the Roosters sent the ball wide and Daniel Tupou ran over untouched for the opening try in the 9th minute.

The Tricolours continued to pepper the home side in the air, putting plenty of pressure on the Cowboys close to the line.

A  penalty 17 minutes in had the Cowboys in striking position – on the last tackle Johnathan Thurston chipped it just above Shaun Kenny-Dowall who couldn’t control it in the in-goal, with Gavin Cooper unlucky not to get a hand on the ball and score.

From the dropout Antonio Winterstein knocked on and the Roosters were again off the hook.

The home side would pay dearly as Pearce grubbered the ball in-goal for Michael Jennings to extend their lead to 10, with James Maloney converting.

It was becoming an unhappy night for O’Neill, another mistake in the air and again the Cowboys would be on their heels.

Pearce was in command as he again grubbered the ball through and this time Aidan Guerra was able to spin out of the tackle from Michael Morgan to score.

Maloney’s conversion had them up by 16 to nothing at the 28-minute mark.

The Roosters weren’t finished yet in the first half as they ran in their fourth try, Boyd Cordner on the end of a Roger Tuivasa-Sheck break to make it 22-nil at half time.

There were better signs at the start of the second, as Morgan sliced through the defence but lost the ball over the line, as they tried to find a way through the Sydney side’s defence.

With a little more possession the Cowboys again had an opportunity to score when Tuivasa-Sheck dropped the ball in-goal. 

Matt Scott thought he’d grounded the ball but for the second time the video ref ruled a no-try.

Everything was going the Roosters' way as Maloney split the North Queensland defence up the middle and found Cordner who scored his second.

Maloney added the extras to have the visitors up 28-nil at the 64th minute.

After constant pressure on the Roosters line, Ethan Lowe popped the ball out the back to Thurston who put the ball through the hands of Justin O’Neill to cross for a consolation try.

In his first NRL game since shoulder surgery Matt Scott put out some big minutes on the field in front of 17,123 members and fans.

Roosters: 28 (Tries Tupou, Jennings, Guerra, Cordner; conversions Maloney 4/5)
Cowboys: 4 (Try O’Neill; conversions Thurston 0/1)