A second-half blitz from the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys Under-20s team has rocketed them to four-from-four to start the season as they routed South Sydney 42-18 at 1300SMILES Stadium tonight.
Centre Bacho Salam and strike forward Emry Pere both scored a try in each half in the seven-tries-to-three win as sharp-shooting halfback Jake Clifford posted seven from seven conversions.
The home side got off to a flyer, racing to an 18-0 lead in as many minutes as Salam, Pere and winger Michael Carroll all crossed early.
But the game reached a dramatic turning point midway through the opening stanza as in-form hooker Calum Gahan copped a sickening knock in a tackle, the young No.9 lying prone for several minutes before being helped from the field.
He would take no further part in the game, and the stoppage seemed to give the visitors a new lease on life.
Souths ran in a three-pronged riposte to their opponents, with tries to back-rower Lucky Taavale, bench forward Cruz Topai-Aveai and big prop Josh Saunders levelling scores on the stroke of half time.
Whatever coach Aaron Payne said to his troops at the break had an almost immediate effect as fullback Kalyn Ponga – returning to NYC duty after a fortnight in the top grade – crossed, ably assisted by Gahan’s backup Duarne Dempsey.
With Clifford accurate with his kicking, four was always being turned into six and when Salam and Pere crossed for their second tries – and captain Mitch Dunn adding one of his own – the young Cowboys raced away with the match.
The victory marks four wins to start the season, with last weekend’s planned match against the Gold Coast Titans postponed until a later date.
NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS NYC 42 (Bacho Salam 2, Emry Pere 2, Michael Carroll, Kalyn Ponga, Mitch Dunn tries; Jake Clifford 7 goals) def SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS NYC 18 (Lucky Taavale, Cruz Topai-Aveai, Josh Saunders tries; Adam Doueihi 3 goals) at 1300SMILES Stadium.