Aaron Payne’s North Queensland Toyota Cowboys under-20s have marched to back-to-back wins in the National Youth Competition with a 35-28 triumph over top-eight threat Cronulla at Shark Park tonight.
The six-tries-to-five win featured plenty of errors but some sparkling attacking play also, as winger Marcus Jensen and gritty captain Cooper Bambling scored doubles to spearhead the team to its 10th win in 14 games, moving them to 21 points on the NYC ladder.
The NYC Cowboys couldn’t catch a cold in winter early in the opening exchanges, with poor handling and poorer discipline gifting their in-form opposition early field position, which they converted into points courtesy of winger Semisi Vea in the opening minutes.
HIT BACK IN STYLE
Once the visitors found some fluidity in attack and managed to hold on to some ball, they looked close to unstoppable as Jensen, Emry Pere and Bambling ran in tries within 10 minutes of one another.
Bambling’s effort was particularly commendable, with the team captain and halfback showing great doggedness to keep his legs pumping, beating tackles and scything over in fine style.
The Sharks would score their second try to get to within 18-10, but Bambling showed great game awareness to close out the period with a field goal on the siren for a 19-10 lead.
GOOD START TO SECOND
Exciting back-rower Pere crossed for his double early in the second half to give the visitors a handy 25-10 lead, a margin that would be decreased but never bridged.
Jensen also posted two tries, his second taking him to 16 tries for the season, to lead the competition.
Twinkled-toed centre Nathan Traill scored a neat try from close range and although the Cowboys under-20s leaked late points, it was enough to secure the 35-28 win and keep the side undefeated since a round seven loss to the Rabbitohs.
NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS 35 (Marcus Jensen 2, Emry Pere 2, Cooper Bambling, Nathan Traill; Bambling 5 goals, field goals) def CRONULLA SHARKS 26 (Semisi Vea, Lachlan Stein, Justin Timu, Ash Nisbet, Rhys Davies tries; Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga 4 goals) at Southern Cross Group Stadium.