2 Aug 2015

Cowboys make most of Broncos' blunder

6:13 am on 2 August 2015

North Queensland have pulled off an amazing comeback to to beat Canberra 32-24 in Townsvill and move level on points with National Rugby League leaders, the Brisbane Broncos.

The Cowboys' playmaker Johnathan Thurston.

The Cowboys' playmaker Johnathan Thurston. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

In an action-packed game, Antonio Winterstein grabbed a double, Jake Granville was the recipient of a brilliant Johnathan Thurston pass and Gavin Cooper crossed in a second half demolition job for the Cowboys.

But that was only after Canberra set up an 18-0 halftime lead with tries to Jack Wighton, Edrick Lee and Sia Soliola.

Chasing its first finals appearance since 2012, the Raiders could not have started better.

But as clubs like Melbourne and Parramatta have learned the hard way this year, no lead is too big to shut out the Cowboys.

Cowboys coach Paul Green joked that he should swap his halftime speeches with his pre-game talks.

"We just didn't really get into our game in the first half," he said.

"The completion rate didn't help ... 50 per cent is not good enough in any competition."

"The second half, we were on top early and stayed there the whole match which is a good sign."

Cowboys fans had their hearts in the throats on several occasions with Thurston going down with a knee knock, a leg twist and a heavy shot to the ribs in the match.

"He's a bit sore, but he'll be all right," Green said.

The news isn't likely to get better for the Raiders, with playmaker Blake Austin on report for a lifting tackle on Cooper and Lee also on the charge list for a blatant trip on Justin O'Neill.

Austin was also penalised for a trip on Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo late in the match.

The Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said weight of possession cost his side in the second half.

Also last night Manly put a week of turmoil behind them, producing a magnificent performance to destroy the table topping Broncos 44-14 in Gosford and giving unwanted coach Geoff Toovey plenty to smile about in his 100th game in charge.

The eight-tries-to-three win keeps the Sea Eagles' finals hopes alive, with the stirring victory coming just four days after Toovey being told his services are not required for next season.

Brisbane had no answer to the Sea Eagles with centre Jamie Lyon, five-eighth Kieran Foran and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans all outstanding for Manly in front of a lively crowd of 16,280 at Central Coast Stadium.

The game was in the bag for Manly at halftime after a brilliant opening 40 minutes gave the Sea Eagles a 20-0 lead at halftime.

Lyon was instrumental in setting up the victory, producing several outstanding plays.

The Sea Eagles rocketed out of the blocks opened the scoring through young winger Tom Trbojevic, who ended up with a double.

A Cherry-Evans grubber kick hit a Broncos player and found its way to Lyon who popped a magical flick pass to the winger on the right edge.

Manly scored again three minutes later with a stunning try to Foran.

Lyon was at it again soon after, scoring himself when he was able to get on the outside of Jack Reed to score on the right edge.

Manly bagged their fourth try when Lyon combined brilliantly with Trbojevic.

The winger tapped a Daly Cherry-Evans cross-field kick back into play and Lyon produced a deft kick into the in-goal with Jesse Sene-Lefao diving on the ball to score just before halftime.

The Sea Eagles scored four second-half tries after repelling a brief Brisbane fightback with Foran finishing the night with a double.