Blackhawks go within 2 points of Cowboys

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Images Courtesy of Townsville Bulletin and News Limited 

In a match that was decided by a single conversion the Townsville & Districts Mendi Blackhawks rose to the challenge overnight to take on a full strength North Queensland Cowboys side at Jack Manski Oval in front of a huge local crowd.

With the likes of Jonathan Thurston, Michael Morgan, Matt Scott, James Tamou and Jason Tamaulolo in the starting line-up it wasn’t surprising that the Cowboys were the first to score with Justin O’Neill crossing in the opening minutes and taking the lead to 6-0.

Far from overawed by the occasion the Mendi Blackhawks quickly returned fire after a classy Michael Parker-Walshe cut out pass put a fast finishing Jonathon Reuben over in the corner.

Moses Pangai then celebrated his return to Jack Manski Oval by storming through the Cowboys line to score on the same edge minutes later putting the Mendi Blackhawks in front 10-6 midway through the first half.

A slick Cowboys backline then went to work, racking up tries to Michael Morgan and Gavin Cooper and putting the NRL side back in front 18-10 leading into the break.

A heavy injury toll and a unique situation that saw two players in Sam Hoare and Kyle Laybutt swap their Blackhawks jerseys for Cowboys jerseys at half time, meant a significant shake up in the team line up for coach Kristian Woolf. In a bizarre twist Woolf had to call Blackhawk back Conor Carey from the grandstand to take to the field to ensure the Mendi Blackhawks had 17 fit players to begin the second stanza.

In a game that was in the balance right up to the final siren the Mendi Blackhawks held the Cowboys scoreless in the second half and produced some herculean defence to hold their NRL counterparts out in back to back sets on their line.

Coach Woolf was particularly impressed with his side’s defence, “I was very happy with the all round performance and particularly with some of our defensive efforts in the second half.”

It was the home side who scored the only try of a tense second half when Sam Foster put a barnstorming Rhyse Martin through a hole to score with seconds left to play. Foster then converted to take the final score to 18-16.

“While it was only a trial, we can take some real positives out of the fact we were able to compete against such a powerful outfit. It was also pleasing to see some of our new and younger players make the most of their opportunity to push for spots in our Round 1 team.” Woolf said following the match.