Melbourne Storm 12
North Queensland Cowboys 32
The North Queensland Cowboys have joined the Brisbane Broncos in booking their place for the now all Queensland 2015 NRL Grand Final after a commanding and dominating 20 point victory over the Melbourne Storm.
In an exceptionally high quality game of rugby league for the most part, the Cowboys dominated right throughout with the exception of a small period in the first half where the Storm turned up the heat and made the Cowboys really work hard to stay in the game.
Right from the gun though, The Cowboys looked the better side. Their creative combination and the other big three in the NRL of Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan and Lachlan Coote turned on an absolute master class, one that the Storm couldn’t stop or do anything about as shown by the final score.
At times, it did seem the Cowboys were a little indecisive in attack however, they stuck out any tough periods and came up with the goods.
The Storm, by no stretch of the imagination played poorly tonight. Elements of their game certainly let them down and Cooper Cronk was no where near his normal self, particularly when it came to his kicking game. The first half though, was one of the best you are likely to see and as such it was close at the break.
The Storm’s best player by the length of the straight was Cameron Munster who made nearly 30 runs and looked dangerous every time he touched the ball while he hardly made a mistake at the back.
Where the Cowboys really won it though was their dominance in the forwards. Led by Matt Scott, Jason Taumalolo and Jason Tamou and eventually backed up from the bench by Scott Bolton and Ben Hannant they out muscled the Storm’s forwards for the most part which made things easy for Thurston, Mogran and Coote.
The scoring opened up in the 9th minute with Cooper Cronk crossing off a Cameron Smith pass, and a step that fooled both Thurston and Coote in defence. After dominating the first 10 minutes, the Cowboys would have been feeling worried letting in a try on basically the Storm’s first romp down the field.
The Cowboys would bounce back five minutes later through Justin O’Neill off a perfectly executed Thurston grubber which drew in the defenders and he was able to just drop it behind the line.
Justin O’Neill grabbed a double just six minutes later with a beautiful flat pass from Thurston putting him through a hole.
The Storm hit back and got the lead back through Tohu Harris with just five minutes to go in the first half off a perfect short ball from Cooper Cronk.
However, the Cowboys landed a huge blow on the stroke of half time with Gavin Cooper scoring out wide off a Johnathan Thurston kick that was flat and fast and left Matt Duffie completely outnumbered.
At half time, the Cowboys held a four point advantage and while they were on top of the game, certainly weren’t totally dominating the game.
After the break, the game went back and forth for quite a while and the longer it went on the more you felt that the Storm had to be the first to score if they were going to stay in the game, however it just wasn’t to be.
In the 54th minute though, the game erupted with a try in the right hand corner to Michael Morgan and a sin bin to Storm winger Marika Koroibete. The try wasn’t great by any stretch, with some sloppy play involved however the finish between Thurston, Justin O’Neill and Morgan was almost perfect.
While the try was being scored though, in back play about 30 metres out where a challenge for the ball had gone down, Marika Koroibete lost his cool and threw a punch getting him sent to the sin bin.
The next time the 12 men Storm had the ball, Cronk tries to kick about 30 metres out and it was charged down by Ben Hannant. Gavin Cooper got to it first, passed to Morgan and he ran 50 metres to score.
As time went on Thurston began struggling with a leg injury so with 10 minutes to go when he put Gavin Cooper through a hole to send the Cowboys to the grand final he headed off the field.