NRL Round 6 – Match 3 Results: Knights 36 v Cowboys 18

This was always going to be a tough test for the Cowboys, playing away from home without their star player Jonathan Thurston and also missing Aaron Payne and Luke O’Donnell.  Although they were well beaten by the Knights at Energy Australia Stadium, they did at least manage to notch three tries in their defeat. But that said, their first 40 minutes was some of the worst footy seen this year.

The season is not looking so good for North Queensland who have now suffered four losses, while the Knights are on the rise finally breaking their four-match losing streak after their opening round win against the Bulldogs.

Newcastle thrived with the return of their influential skipper Kurt Gidley, scoring themselves an impressive six first half tries.

The Knights took the lead early, with Cameron Ciraldo getting over the line just three minutes into the match. From there it was go go go for Newcastle who notched an impressive 22 points in 22 minutes with Keith Lulia (7th minute), Cory Paterson (12th minute) and Issac De Gois (20th minute) all easily getting through the Cowboys soft defence.

After the Knight’s first four tries, the Cowboys finally got over the line in the 24th minute when fullback Shannon Gallant opened their account and John Williams converted to narrow the score line 22 – 6.

But less than five minutes later the Knights were at it again, not letting their opponents get any ideas about an upset, when winger Cooper Vuna scored his first half double, of an eventual match hat-trick.

Vuna got over in the 28th and 33rd minutes and even though Gidley had only managed to convert three of the Knights six first half tries, they still held a more than comfortable 30 – 6 lead at the half time break.

Returning for the second half the Cowboys did manage to add some respectability to the scoreline, as winger John Williams scored and converted a try in the 52nd minute. Temporary five-eighth Ashley Graham then got over less than 10 minutes later, and Williams third conversion of the night saw them narrow the deficit to 30 – 18.

With 20 minutes still left on the clock, North Queensland fans were entertaining the idea of one of the NRL’s best second half turn-arounds, but it wasn’t to be as the Cowboys failed to score again.

Meanwhile the Knight’s added a final bit of gloss to their huge win as Vuna completed his hat-trick with three minutes left on the clock, and Gildley’s late conversion saw them finish up with 36 points to the Cowboys 18.

If it hadn’t been for such a poor first-half performance, the Cowboys very nearly could have had the Knights after the full 80 minutes and joined the string of teams this season who have outscored and beaten Newcastle after trailing at the half-time break including Melbourne, Penrith and South Sydney.