A pair of match-winning plays to five-eighth Kyle Laybutt has helped the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys under-20s to a heart-stopping come-from-behind 30-24 victory over the Dragons in Wollongong.
It was second playing 16th as the young Cowboys searched for six wins on the trot, but the plucky Dragons belied their last-place standing to match motors with a Cowboys team weakened by Queensland under-20 representative duties.
With scores locked at 12-all at half-time, and the Cowboys playing well below the free-flowing standards of recent weeks, the teams traded tries in the second half, and the game was tied at 24-all with 15 minutes remaining.
Enter Laybutt, the cool-headed youngster taking a miracle catch off a Dragons fifth-tackle kick to then sprint 90m to touch down for the go-ahead try.
Moments later, the Cowboys’ everywhere man raced 60m to make a great cover tackle as the Dragons pushed for the game-tying try.
He also scored an opportunistic try in the first half for another well-rounded display showing poise and maturity.
Earlier, Fijian man mountain Viliame Kikau terrorised the Dragons edge defence with coach Todd Payten making a late switch to put the man they call “Kicks” into the centres.
This tactic proved a masterstroke as Kikau scored in the seventh, 28th and 58th minutes in a team performance dogged by silly penalties and soft defence.
Another bright light for the Cowboys was a try for NYC debutante Jesse Pomare-Anderson, who was the recipient of slick passing to show great speed to score in the corner.
The under-20 Cowboys stay in second place on the NYC ladder with 27 points, one point shy of ladder leading Penrith and with an automatic two points for next weekend’s bye to be factored in.
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys 30 (Viliame Kikau 3, Kyle Laybutt 2, Jesse Pomare-Anderson tries; Cooper Bambling 3 goals) def St George Illawarra Dragons 24 (Thomas Carr, Ryan Fletcher, Izaac Thompson, Matt Dufty; Ryan James 4 goals) at WIN Stadium.