The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys Under-20s have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a lacklustre second half to lose to the Melbourne Storm 22-20 at AAMI Park.
Leading 14-0 at half time and 18-0 after 45 minutes, the young Cowboys looked set for their third win on the trot, before the Storm surged home on a wave of possession to race in four unanswered second-half tries for the victory.
The Cowboys were hurt by a second-half sin-bin to their centre Nathan Traill for a professional foul as the home crowd turned the screws with good ball control and hard running.
The bright spot in a dark afternoon for Aaron Payne’s men was a hat-trick of tries to hard-running back-rower Ryan Lloyd.
The young Cowboys are now eight wins and six losses for the season and will likely drop out of the top four.
MELBOURNE STORM NYC 22 (Beau Fermor 2, Sale Finau, Tevita Alifa tries; Jesse Arthars 3 goals) def NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS NYC 20 (Ryan Lloyd 3, Marshall Hudson tries; Jake Clifford goal, pen. goal) at AAMI Park.