The North Queensland Cowboys have finally ended its huge losing streak at nine with a golden point thriller against the St George Illawarra Dragons.
After 83 minutes, Valentine Holmes stepped up when it mattered most, kicking the clutch field goal to bury the Dragons‘ faint finals hopes in 2020.
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It‘s also the first win for interim coach Josh Hannay in his seventh game in charge.
The season has been awful for the Cowboys, opening a new stadium to start the season with the win the club‘s fourth of the year.
Already out of finals contention, it was a massive result for the Cowboys and will give newly minted head coach Todd Payten plenty to work with.
But on the other side, it essentially ends the Dragons hopes.
Dragons‘ coach Dean Young was blunt when asked about how he saw the result.
“Same s***, different day,” he said.
Pressed further about where it went wrong, he again took aim at the side for its costly mistakes.
“It went wrong with blokes not getting their jobs done,” he said. ”Again, for the second week in a row, the game was there to be won in the last five minutes, which is what this club wants to be about. We want to be fighting for the full 80 minutes right to the death, but this club deserves to win as well. And at the moment there‘s individuals not getting their jobs done and that’s what’s costing this team.”
Young said it was a dropped ball at a crucial time or fundamental errors that are letting the side down.
It was much happier in Hannay‘s presser.
He said he was “happy for the players” after some near misses in previous weeks.
But despite his first win, with Payten coming in as coach, Hannay said he was disappointed to miss out on the role.
He is reportedly contracted to the club for next year and won‘t be lost to the club.
“I only want good things to happen for this place because it‘s been a big part of my life,” he said. ”The week’s been challenging but it certainly hasn’t changed how I see the place.
“When we‘re good as a club, we’re a hardworking group and I think we’ve gone away and lost our identity as a football team and a football club. Hopefully in the period I’ve had with the group I’ve hammered home that point about constant effort and attitude and a want to do your best for the club and the jersey and the region.”
It was a solid contest throughout the game with the Cowboys scoring first before the Dragons hit the lead 12-6 at halftime on the back of two quick tries.
But the Cowboys weren‘t about to give up with Jake Clifford replying at the end of the first set of the second half, finishing an outstanding effort in the corner.
After putting up a bomb, the ball was batted back by his teammates and finding its way back to Clifford to score.
It led to more back and forth in the second half as sides traded tries until the Cowboys‘ Kyle Feldt scored in the 66th minute.
At 22-20 with the clock winding down, it was almost inevitable that Zac Lomax would slot a penalty goal and send the game to extra-time.
After two missed field goal attempts in regular time, the Dragons‘ Corey Norman had the first shot, but pushed it wide.
Holmes then had his first attempt charged down but the Cowboys got the ball back after a knock on.
He made no mistake with the second shot to seal the win for his side.