Cowboys storm home 18-12 as Raiders fade in NRL

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An outstanding second-half fightback has carried North Queensland to a gutsy NRL win over the Raiders in Canberra.

Down 12-0 to the Raiders after producing a lacklustre first 40, the Cowboys turned it on the second half and pinched an important 18-12 win on Thursday night, capped off by Jeremiah Nanai’s 72nd-minute try.

Canberra substitute Xavier Savage was bundled into touch on his first run of the game after winger Jordan Rapana opted to pass rather than take the hit himself, and the Cowboys made full use of the field position.

A sharp kick from Scott Drinkwater sat up perfectly for Nanai to plant home while Valentine Holmes slotted the kick to build the six-point gap.

It capped an excellent rally, made somewhat easier by a fading Raiders outfit that failed to fire a shot in a dismal second half.

Heilum Luki got the Cowboys on the board from close range via Reece Robson at dummy-half on 45 minutes, and they were level in the 63rd when Holmes built speed and burst through a hole in the Raiders defence.

Earlier, the home side had defied their status as league’s worst ball security team and completed their first 12 sets of the match, finding 12 vital points to show for it.

They led just three minutes in when hooker Tom Starling dashed out of dummy-half to cut through and score, before Rapana crossed in the corner on 15 minutes courtesy of a lightning pass from Corey Harawira-Naera that helped the winger to his first try of the season.

But the Raiders would be wondering how they left so many points on the field from a dominant first half and why their intensity dropped right away after the break.

Their old issues crept in too, with a vital handling error from Charnze-Nicoll Klokstad awarding the Cowboys field position for Holmes’ leveller, while the impressive Joe Tapine lost the ball late in the piece as the Raiders started a set inside their opponent’s 10m.

Holmes stood out with 120m, two line breaks and a try but the comeback wouldn’t have happened without Jason Taumololo, who worked brilliantly for 217m.

The Raiders’ Josh Papali’i produced an influential first half-hour stint for 122m but had no impact in the second, while Tapine starred with 142m.

The win saw the Cowboys square the ledger at 3-3, while the Raiders are now 2-4 and have lost three straight games.

AAP

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