The Warriors have broken a 12-year losing streak in Townsville with a 20-16 NRL victory over North Queensland.
The Warriors have broken a 12-year losing streak in Townsville with a 20-16 NRL victory over fast-finishing North Queensland.
The New Zealanders held on for their first win of the season as the Cowboys threw everything at them in the final 15 minutes at 1300Smiles Stadium on Saturday night.
They were particularly fortunate that North Queensland winger Kyle Feldt stepped out on his way to the tryline with just over a minute to go.
Feleti Mateo then knocked on in front of his posts only 12 metres out with 36 seconds left, but Kane Linnett dropped the ball in the Cowboys’ last play of the game.
The Warriors’ last win at the Cowboys’ home ground was on April 6, 2002, when Stacey Jones was captain and Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was at fullback.
The visitors came out strongest in each half, putting on two tries in the early stages of each half to down the slow-starting Cowboys.
Going into the match on the back of two losses, the Warriors took the lead in the ninth minute through Glen Fisiiahi, who picked up a bouncing Chad Townsend pass to cross in the right corner.
The winger was in again 10 minutes later, taking advantage of a Michael Morgan’s miss of a Shaun Johnson grubber.
The deficit seemed to spark the Cowboys into action but Antonio Winterstein tripped over his own feet in the 22nd minute and fell just short of the tryline.
The Samoa international made no mistake five minutes later as he again took a Morgan cut-out pass and beat three defenders to force his way over.
Holding an 8-6 lead at halftime and following three consecutive sets, Konrad Hurrell crossed for the visitors with his fourth touch of the ball.
Sione Lousi crossed under the uprights and Johnson converted to give the Kiwis a 14-point advantage with 18 minutes to play.
As the rain began to fall, the Cowboys finally found some spark in attack and Morgan was first on the scene after Fisiiahi dropped a Johnathan Thurston bomb to score on 65 minutes.
The video referee ruled against Tariq Sims who ran through a giant gap but knocked on over the line on 70 minutes.
A leaping Feldt effort in the corner put the Cowboys back in with a sniff with seven minutes to go.
Warriors coach Matt Elliot said the improved performance by Shaun Johnson set up his team’s performance in trying humid conditions plus the different time zone.
He said fast starts had been a focus, but it was important they kept it up for longer periods.
“We had a lot of guys cramping up there and the guys finished at 1am our time so it was trying conditions for them but I thought we showed a lot of courage,” Elliot said.
Captain Simon Mannering, who had never won in Townsville before, said their pace out of the blocks set up the historic win.
“I thought we didn’t push anything too hard, especially on their tryline, and if you look at the tries we did score, especially in the second half it was just going through them and sustaining pressure,” he said.
Cowboys coach Paul Green said it was a frustrating night for his team, who were guilty of giving up too much of the ball.
“We get a little bit tight when we get under pressure and we’re still a little bit off as a team,” Green said.
“Our ball control wasn’t good enough and put simply, our completion rate wasn’t high enough.
“When we did back up some sets with the ball I thought we looked good and I thought they had trouble handling us, but we just didn’t do it enough in the game.”