Five-try Ikuvalu tears Cowboys to shreds

North Queensland faced a daunting assignment getting their season back on track when they hosted a Sydney Roosters side bent on atoning for a heart-breaking golden-point loss to the Storm.

The Cowboys started the game the stronger of the two sides, with the game being played inside the Roosters half.

They were first to cross the line as well as Cliffords high wasn’t grabbed by Ryan Hall and Coen Hess gathered to dice over.

Unfortunately, the players who were offside at the kick got involved in the play and the score remained nil-nil.

With the game still scoreless after 15 minutes, North Queensland were still in high spirits having kept Sydney out.

Those high spirits got even higher just after the 20-minute mark.

After a charging run from Jason Taumalolo, the loose-forward played the ball quickly and Reece Robson targeted the defence in behind and slammed the ball onto the line.

In an attempt to stop Robson, Jake Friend’s head made connect with his opposite numbers knee and was out cold, and failed his Head Injury Assessment.

After a high tackle from Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in front of his own posts, the Cowboys took the chance to push the lead to eight points.

However, Feldt’s kick ricocheted off the upright and 6-0 it remained.

In the Rooster very next attacking set, the made sure to punish the Cowboys for their lack of clinical finishing.

Luke Keary shifted the ball onto James Tedesco, who’s quick catch and pass gave Matt Ikuvalu to space to dive over in the corner, after his late inclusion after an injury to Brett Morris in the warm-up.

With just four minutes until the break, Sio Taukeiaho dummied and then busted through the tackle of Reece Robson, and despite a near mixup with Sitili Tupouniua, the front-rower managed to flick the offload to the second-row who raced over the score.

Flanagan converted to make it 6-12.

HALF-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 6-12 Sydney Roosters

Things went from bad to worse for the Cowboys during the break as Valentine Holmes would not return from his ankle knock picked up at the end of the first half.

Just two minutes into the second period, the Roosters worked the ball to the right-hand edge, Tedesco took the ball to the line, flicked out the ball to Joseph Manu, who, in turn, tipped the ball to Ikuvalu.

The winger then beat the tackle of Ben Hampton, and dove over in the corner, keeping his fingers on the ball to dot down.

After Feldt’s kick-off went straight over the dead-ball line, the Roosters started their attacking set on the 40-metre line.

The end of the set resulted in the ball in the hands of Ikuvalu and the winger managed to keep his heel off the touchline to once again score in the corner behind the tackle of Hampton.

With half an hour to go, the Roosters rout continued.

Tedesco picked up an inside pass from Kyle Flanagan and stepped the onrushing Cowboys to run clear into the backfield.

With just Tibuai-Fidow to beat, the full-back passed inside to Luke Keary who walked in to score the third try in five sets for Sydney.

Moments later, it was Lindsey Collins who dissected the North Queensland side.

He charged through the defence, and it was Keary once again in support who received the pass from Collins to score under the posts.

Having scored six tries in a total of 21 minutes, it took the Roosters five minutes to score another one.

Tedesco danced across the field trying to find a gap, but couldn’t find one, instead, he found Keary, who threw a looping pass to Ikuvalu, who managed to hold off Ben Hampton and picked up his fourth try to double his career tally.

With 15 minutes later, Keary and Ikuvalu combined once more as the half-backs kick was perfectly judged by Ikuvalu who claimed the ball and grounded for his fifth try, and the first time a Rooster had scored five since 1955.

Despite being 36-points behind, the Cowboys picked up their second try with seven minutes remaining through Coen Hess, with the big second-rower powering through the tackle of Kyle Flanagan after picking up a short ball.

Reece Robson was determined not to make the scoreline look as bad as it should be, as once again he skipped out from dummy-half and burrowed under Tedesco for his second of the night.

The Roosters were in possession of the ball in the final seconds, and it finally looked as though Ryan Hall would cross for his first NRL try as Josh Morris offload found him and the big winger raced away.

Unfortunately, the offload from Morris was forward and Hall was denied.

FULL-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 16-42 Sydney Roosters


North Queensland Cowboys

Tabuai-Fidow, Feldt, Lemelu, Marsters, Holmes, Drinkwater, Clifford, McGuire, Robson, Molo, Wright, Hess, Taumalolo

Interchanges: Hampton, Gilbert, Hola, Cooper

Tries: Robson (2), Hess

Goals: Feldt (2/3)

Sydney Roosters

Tedesco, Hall, J. Morris, Manu, Ikuvalu, Keary, Flanagan, Waerea-Hargreaves, Friend, Taukeiaho, Crichton, Aubusson, Butcher

Interchanges: Lam, Tupouniua, Faamausuli, Collins

Tries: Ikuvalu (5), Tupouniua, Keary (2)

Goals: Flanagan (5/8)

Referee: A. Gee

Touch Judges: M. Noyen, B. Sharpe

Video Referee: B. Galea

Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)

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