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Cowboys sharpshooter Valentine Holmes kicked a penalty goal after full-time to steal a 27-26 victory over the Wests Tigers at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. 

The visitors appeared to have had the match won leading by a point with five seconds left before the Cowboys received a penalty from a short kick-off after Asu Kepaoa was ruled to have run Kyle Feldt off the ball.

Holmes then stepped up to the plate and slotted the goal from 25 metres out in a heart-breaking finish for the Tigers, who looked like they were going to celebrate James Tamou's 300th game with an emphatic win.

High drama as Holmes has shot at goal to win it

Just moments earlier the Tigers rallied to snatch the lead with two tries in the final six minutes in a seesawing clash that saw the Cowboys overcome a 12-point deficit in the second half. 

The second-place Cowboys started strong after three minutes of play when Tom Dearden crossed early, but they fumbled their way through the opening half to trail 16-6.

It wasn't until the 47th minute that Todd Payten's side clicked into gear with two tries in six minutes setting up an 18-18 scoreline as the Tigers lost their way.

A double to Jeremiah Nanai added to his remarkable try-scoring tally in 2022 and appeared to have helped the side notch victory. 

A field goal to Holmes with six minutes remaining appeared to seal the result and give the Cowboys their 13th win of the season before a late try to Brent Naden, who crossed for a double in his return match, kept the game alive. 

Another try to the Tigers through To'a on the right edge appeared to have won it for the Tigers before the final play of the game went in favour of the Cowboys.

Wests Tigers grab the lead in the final minute

Match snapshot

  • The Cowboys completed at just 50% and missed 31 tackles in the opening half to surrender a 16-6 lead on home turf against a more disciplined Wests Tigers outfit.
  • Wests Tigers skipper James Tamou became the 45th player to reach 300 NRL games when he ran onto the field at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
  • Cowboys winger Murray Taulagi, who returned from a bout of COVID-19 that ruled him out of Origin III, struggled with an ankle injury suffered early in the match. 
  • Cowboys forward Jeremiah Nanai scored the second double of his career with two tries in the second half and now has nine tries in 10 games at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
  • The Cowboys have now won six of their past seven games at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

Play of the game

Valentine Holmes' sharp-shooting effort after the siren won the game for the Cowboys in a finish that will be spoken about for days to come but it was a game that had everything including a field goal effort from the Maroons centre to take them out to a seven-point lead late.

Holmes slots the field goal

What they said

"As I said to the boys it was a moment of elation and then a moment of deflation. I felt that I wasn't quite sure on why the decision was made. My understanding is that when the Bunker comes into play or when there's a challenge made it has to be when there's indiscretion in the play or there's a breakdown of the play. My understanding is we caught the ball and the game was over, that's where it should have ended. We had a great effort today, played really well and got up for our captain who played his 300th game. We challenged one of the top sides. For us that's the big question, why don't we rise to the occasion more often." - Wests Tigers assistant coach Ben Gardiner.

"It's debatable [that we deserved to win]. [The final challenge] is for smarter people to work out. Some fundamental errors that put us under pressure way too much. In the end we found a way to win and that's what you need to do at this time of the year. While I'm still trying to get my head around it I'm happy. In a couple of weeks it will all be forgotten about." - Cowboys coach Todd Payten.

NRL Press Conference: Cowboys v Wests Tigers - Round 19, 2022

What's next

North Queensland will have a seven-day turnaround before flying to Sydney for a clash against St George Illawarra at Netstrata Jubilee Oval. 

The Tigers will fly back to Sydney before returning to Queensland for next Saturday's clash against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium. 

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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