A late try to Laitia Moceidreke on the stroke of full-time has helped the Cowboys salvage a 22-22 draw in a thrilling finish against the Dolphins at Barlow Park in Cairns.
The Dolphins appeared set to have stolen victory after coming from behind earlier in the match before the Cowboys crossed late to level the scores with Zac Laybutt unable to convert from out wide.
Young stars Jack Bostock and Isaiya Katoa stood tall for Wayne Bennett while Tom Chester and Thomas Duffy put their hand up for future selection at North Queensland.
The Dolphins got out of the blocks early with a pinpoint Anthony Milford grubber bouncing perfectly for Illawarra Steelers junior Jack Bostock who touched down in stunning fashion just inside the line to score.
Bostock brilliant put down makes history for the Dolphins
But just four minutes later, thanks to a pinpoint kick from Ben Hampton, young flyer Moceidreke hit back for the Cowboys and Duffy converted to put the Cowboys in front 6-4.
Six minutes later and Cairns Brothers junior Robert Derby intercepted a looping pass from Isaiya Katoa to run the length of Barlow Park, crashing over the line despite a valiant chase by Euan Aitken.
Match: Cowboys v Dolphins
Round 1 -
Venue: Barlow Park, Cairns
Come the 32nd minute of the match and it was Derby again, who cleaned up a Chester kick before crashing over in the right corner for an 18-4 lead.
Three minutes before the half time buzzer and Katoa delivered a neat inside pass to Lachlan Hubner who scored under the posts, reducing the deficit 18-10.
Isaiya Katoa sends Hubner in underneath the black dot
After biding time in the sin bin, Milford wasted no time after re-entering the fray, producing a perfectly weighted kick which Brenton Baira snared from Derby to reduce the gap to two.
Late errors cost the young Cowboys the chance to seal the win early with multiple missed scoring opportunities and the Dolphins took the lead in the 72nd minute through Mason Teague.
But a late try to Moceidreke on the stroke of full-time saw the two Queensland sides lock scores on the siren.
Moceidreke ties it up on the bell
- Wayne Bennett and Kristian Woolf rolled out several of their inaugural signings with Anthony Milford, Jarrod Wallace and Jamayne Isaako leading the new franchise.
- Jack Bostock created history scoring the first ever Dolphins try in the seventh minute of the match.
- Dolphins playmaker Anthony Milford spent 10 minutes in the sin bin for a professional foul right on half-time.
- Dolphins product Tyler Szepanowski suffered a dislocated shoulder during the match.
- Dolphins hooker Harrison Graham left the field in the 25th minute of the match with a knee injury.
- After a horror start to his Dolphins campaign, fumbling the ball off the kick-off, Isaiya Katoa showed promise at five eighth with a try assist and line break assist.
- New recruit James Tamou headed a young North Queensland side in his first hit out as a returning Cowboy.
- Kristian Woolf coached the Dolphins in the absence of head coach Wayne Bennett, who didn't make the trip to Cairns.
- Dolphins lock Ray Stone was immense in his first game since rupturing his ACL in March last year, with 32 tackles.
Play of the Game
The Dolphins produced two big plays during the contest with Jack Bostock's try early and youngster Brenton Baira, who lit up Barlow Park to fly high to score in a memorable moment in his first touch of the ball.
Brenton Baira takes a beauty
What they said
"We were quite clunky close to the try line. We lacked a bit of continuity with what we were doing. Disappointing in some ways but good to get through with no injuries. I thought our back five were really strong and James Tamou was our best middle, got through a lot of work and I wouldn’t have expected anything less." - Cowboys coach Todd Payten.
The Cowboys will meet with their Queensland rivals the Broncos in the Sunshine Coast while the Dolphins will host the Titans in Redcliffe to round out pre-season preparations for both sides ahead of Round 1 next month.