The Canberra Raiders travelled to Townsville on the verge of the top four as they looked to overcome the North Queensland Cowboys for their third win on the bounce.
The Cowboys were the first to get on the board after a ser restart allowed Reece Robson to take advantage of the slow Raiders line, use Jason Taumalolo as a dummy-runner and step through dot down himself.
The Raiders couldn’t get out of their own half, as they struggled to hold North Queensland off in defence, but were only completing 67% of their sets.
That was until just after the 20th minute though, when George Williams, John Bateman and Curtis Scott combined to released Nick Cotric down the right-wing.
With just Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to beat, the winger passed back inside to Williams in support who raced away to score.
With just over five minutes to go until the break, Kyle Feldt was penalised in front of his own posts, which allowed Croker to add two points from the boot, and give his side a slender lead.
In the final seconds of the half, the Cowboys had the ball, but Ryan Sutton closed down Reece Robson and the half came to an end.
HALF-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 6-8 Canberra Raiders
The Raiders come out in the second half making the same errors they made in the first, but the Cowboys were not perfect either.
It took ten minutes for a serious try-scoring opportunity for either side, and Jason Taumalolo took the most of his chance.
He received an inside ball back on the inside from John Asiata and the big man broke through the Canberra defence and dotted down under the posts.
The Cowboys lead didn’t last long though.
Williams faked the kick to the corner and did enough to pass the ball onto John Bateman, who pushed away from the North Queensland defence and threw a basketball-style pass out to Curtis Scott who slid over on the right edge.
The next 15 minutes of the game became very niggly, with plenty of errors between both sides, but also a few half chances.
With ten minutes of the game remaining, the Raiders still led by two, but the Cowboys were still pushing.
Things went badly for North Queensland when with seven minutes to go Asiata had to be helped off the field after his leg was trapped underneath him in the tackle.
This meant they were down to 12 as they had already made all their interchanges.
The Raiders looked to make the most of the man advantage, but Croker was stripped of the ball as he went close on the left edge.
Asiata returned to the field after treatment as only 60 seconds were left on the clock.
He combined with Hampton to give the ball to Justin O’Neill but his offload to Tabuai-Fidow only found the floor.
FULL-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 12-14 Canberra Raiders
North Queensland Cowboys
Tabuai-Fidow, Feldt, O’Neill, Lemuelu, Taulagi, Hampton, Clifford, McLean, Robson, Molo, Wright, Hess, Taumalolo
Interchanges: Dunn, Gilbert, Cooper, Asiata
Tries: Robson, Taumalolo
Goals: Feldt (2/2)
Rapana, Valemei, Croker, Scott, Cotric, Wighton, Williams, Papalii, Havili, Lui, Bateman, Whitehead, Young.
Interchanges: Starling, Tapine, Sutton, Harawira-Naera
Tries: Williams, Scott
Goals: Croker (3/3)
Referee: B. Cummins
Touch Judges: P. Henderson, J. Stone
Video Referee: B. Norrie
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)