The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys under-20s have had their perfect 2017 record ended by a determined Wests Tigers outfit who outpaced the home side 26-20 at 1300SMILES Stadium.
Coming into the round 6 meeting 4-4 (with round 4 postponed), Aaron Payne's squad had some late changes including five new faces debuting for the Cowboys, with five regulars serving a club-imposed one-week penalty for a breach of team protocol.
A highlight for the Cowboys was Marshall Hudson's double on debut, the Cloncurry Bulls junior scoring late in each half.
Wests Tigers posted the first points of the day, with a sharp left edge move allowing Connelly Lemuelu to dive over after just four minutes.
Wests Tigers looked to continue their impressive start as they marched down field on several occasions, but couldn’t find the final pass to extend their lead.
That would prove costly for the visitors, who soon trailed 6-4 after Kurt Wiltshire showed great speed to get outside his man and cross under the posts.
Jake Clifford's conversion put the Cowboys in front after 20 minutes.
Wests Tigers let numerous chances go to waste in attack throughout the first half, with simple errors and good goal-line defence combining to keep them at bay.
That would ensure the Cowboys’ 6-4 lead remained intact, before a clever set piece just before half-time resulted in Marshall Hudson diving over to extend the advantage.
Clifford couldn’t convert from out wide, leaving the score at 10-4, before Daniel Peck crashed over right on the siren for the Tigers to cut the home side’s advantage to 10-8 at the break.
Dominating possession to start the second half, North Queensland would restore their lead through Cody Maughan, who crashed over to take the hosts’ lead to 16-8.
The home side appeared destined to extend their lead further but a goal-line tackle saw Nathan Traill somehow stopped from scoring, giving Wests Tigers momentum.
They would eventually claw their way down field and cross through Corey Kurnoth next to the posts, with Higgins’ conversion from next to the uprights making it 16-14 after 59 minutes.
Full of running, Wests Tigers took the lead shortly after, reacting quickest to a deflected grubber in the in-goal to take a 20-16 lead with 15 to play.
The visitors made it three tries in the space of 10 minutes when Liam Pakau scooped up a kick that was allowed to bounce by the Cowboys, pushing Wests Tigers' lead to 26-16 inside the final 10 minutes.
Hudson’s second try of the night with seven minutes remaining set up a grandstand finish but the Tigers held their line to take the win.
Wests Tigers NYC 26 (Corey Kurnoth, Connelly Lemuelu, Liam Pakau, Daniel Peck tries; Blake Higgins 3/5 goals) def North Queensland Toyota Cowboys NYC 20 (Marshall Hudson 2, Cody Maughan, Kurt Wiltshire tries; Jake Clifford 2/4 goals). Half-time: 10-8.