North Queensland Cowboys stun Roosters on Central Coast


“I was very disappointed in our defence on those two tries. I thought it was just really poor, really poor,” Robinson said. “It wasn’t a game we had any continuity to get more points.”

The problems for the Roosters appeared early when Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was put on report for leading with his head against Josh McGuire, putting him at risk of a suspension given his disciplinary record, and worsened minutes later.

Jake Clifford celebrates after scoring in the first half.Credit:AAP

Clifford pounced on the Roosters’ mistakes, slicing through a porous defensive line to score his first career try with considerable ease, before Jordan Kahu converted to make it 6-0.

The Roosters struggled to find a reply in a first half that was their most forgettable of 2019. For the first time this season, they failed to register a single point in the first 40 minutes. A harsh team talk during the break from Robinson lead to an immediate response, led by the returning Jake Friend.

The hooker darted over the tryline from dummy half and scored beside the post, allowing Latrell Mitchell to equalise with the conversion.

The Roosters had the lead on the hour when centre Brett Morris wriggled out of a tackle to plant the ball over the line near the right touchline, before Mitchell added the extras to make it 12-6.

Milestone man: Gavin Cooper celebrates victory in his 300th match.

Milestone man: Gavin Cooper celebrates victory in his 300th match.Credit:AAP

However, their lead didn’t last long. The Cowboys’ stand-in half John Asiata found space with a big right step, then powered through the line and reached out to score with 10 minutes remaining. With Kahu injured, Clifford showed maturity beyond his years to level with the conversion.

With the match heading towards golden point, Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary sought to seal the win for the Roosters in regular time but failed to hit the target with three field goal attempts. Instead it was the least experienced half on the field that displayed the greatest composure.

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With a minute remaining, Clifford nailed his third field goal attempt to make it 13-12 before putting the final polish on the win with a penalty goal after the siren.

“I think this is a game he should take a lot of confidence out of. We all know the talent he’s got but, to be fair, up to this point he hasn’t been able to produce it consistently,” Cowboys coach Paul Green said. “We really needed Cliffo to step up today and do his job and I thought he was outstanding.”

His performance moved the Cowboys to within two points of the top eight but there is a chance he might not be part of their next match that could see them move inside the finals bracket. The only blemish on his performance was a foul for tripping Roosters’ Sitili Tupouniua in the first half which saw Clifford put on report.

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