The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys under-20s have scrapped their way to a tenth consecutive NYC win with a 32-22 victory over the Cronulla Sharks at Remondis Stadium this afternoon.
Leading 16-10 at the break and having committed too many errors and conceded too many penalties, Todd Payten’s young men improved in the second half, but couldn’t shake the plucky Sharks until the final 10 minutes of the match when fullback Kalyn Ponga’s length-of-the-field effort sealed the result.
It was the Cowboys’ 16th win of the season and a far cry from their 50-6 win over the 13th-placed Sharks in Round 16, but a win nonetheless as North Queensland temporarily move to the top of the NYC ladder on 37 points for at least a day.
Former ladder leaders Penrith play the Eels tomorrow.
'Captain Courageous' Andrew Niemoeller and teen sensation Ponga – playing in his first game in the starting lineup – both posted doubles, with Niemoeller particularly impressive in a performance when things weren’t clicking in attack.
Ponga provided sparks of brilliance, with his match-sealing try showcasing his speed and elusiveness.
Five-eighth Kyle Laybutt was another standout, with his calm decision-making called upon when the team struggled to find the sort of cohesiveness that has seen them rack up cricket scores in recent weeks.
The match did provide a nice milestone for winger Gideon Mosby, whose 29th try for the season equalled the all-time record for tries in the competition.
With four regular-season games remaining, Mosby is almost certain to break the record, previously held by former Wests Tigers flyer Jake Mullaney, who achieved the 29-try mark in 2009.
NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS 32 (Andrew Niemoeller 2, Kalyn Ponga 2, Gideon Mosby, Kyle Laybutt tries; Laybutt 4 goals) def CRONULLA SHARKS 22 (Anthony Moraitis 2, Alec Susino, Harrison Muller tries; Jaiden Brown 3 goals) at Remondis Stadium.