St George Illawarra posts its fourth consecutive win with a 26-12 triumph over the previously unbeaten Parramatta, and North Queensland get on the board in 2021 via a 34-30 defeat of Wests Tigers.
Check out how Sunday’s NRL matches unfolded.
Eels vs Dragons
Cowboys stun Tigers
The spirit of hard-nosed Wests legend Tommy Raudonikis was everywhere but on the field in the first half at Leichhardt Oval, as North Queensland stunned the hosts to set up a 34-30 win.
The famous hill was heaving with fans ready to honour ex-Magpies, Australia and New South Wales halfback Raudonikis who died during the week, but the emotion was sucked out of the air as the Cowboys ran rampant in the first 40 minutes.
By half-time some in the 9,433-strong crowd turned their voices to booing the Tigers into the sheds after they had sunk to a stunning 28-6 deficit.
The Tigers were a revived side in the second half, however, running in five tries and having another denied by the bunker to bring the crowd raging back to life.
Both teams scored six tries, but three missed conversions from Adam Doueihi proved the difference as the Tigers fell just short of a famous comeback victory and the Cowboys claimed their first win of the season.
Joe Ofahengaue, Tommy Talau, David Nofoaluma, Luciano Leilua and Luke Garner all punched through to score in the second half as the Tigers racked up quick points to push the Cowboys right to the final whistle.
The Tigers were left ruing what could have been when — with 18 minutes to go — the Bunker denied a try to Nofoaluma, ruling the Cowboys’ defence was obstructed in the lead-up.
The decision temporarily halted the rampaging Tigers’ momentum and the Cowboys scored soon after through Lachlan Burr to extend their lead.
Despite the comeback, Maguire said he was shocked the side did not turn up in the first half on a special day to honour Raudonikis.
Again, he said defensive lapses were to blame and flagged potential changes next week.
“Our reserve grade is going well, so we’ll have a look,” he said.
The Cowboys will now play Canterbury in Townsville on Sunday, while the Tigers play South Sydney – and former skipper Benji Marshall – at Stadium Australia on Saturday.