Cowboys surprise Sea Eagles with late comeback

North Queensland scored three tries in three minutes to take a stunning 28-26 defeat of Manly at 4 Pines Park on Friday night.

Trailing 26-12 just seven minutes from full-time, the Cowboys made a remarkable comeback as Reece Robson, Murray Taulagi and Valentine Holmes crossed one another in succession to shock the Sea Eagles.

The Cowboys did so after losing Queensland forward Reuben Cotter in warm-up to a hamstring injury that left him doubting for next weekend’s Origin in Perth and they never really looked forward to winning until the final stage.

Cotter’s night over before it starts

Until the late attack, it looked like Manly hooker Lachlan Croker had led the home side to an impressive win after trying a try and scoring two in the second half, but the Sea Eagles fell painfully short.

Match snapshot

  • The Cowboys had to adapt quickly after losing to Cotter just before kick-off, but they were soon behind on the scoreboard when winger Christian Tuipulotu scored in the eighth minute after kicking back-to-back Manly.
  • The try came after striker Toafofoa Sipley caught a kick from Daly Cherry-Evans and passed it to Kieran Foran, who saw Tuipuloto standing unmarked on the right flank and sent the ball to him with a cross-field kick.

Beware of the second staircase

  • Another kick nearly led to a second Manly try after strike-forward Haumole Olakau’atu won a mid-air challenge with Cowboys fullback Scott Drinkwater, but the Bunker ruled he knocked before center Tolutua Koula landed.
  • It wasn’t long before the Sea Eagles scored their second try, with center Morgan Harper splitting the defense with a dummy half run on his own 10-meter line and Reuben Garrick racing at 50 meters to score in the 24th minute.

Harper splits them, Garrick finished them

  • Despite the disappointing start, the Cowboys would have happily gone into halftime trailing just 10-6 after Chad Townsend kicked, collected the bouncing ball and kicked again to allow an unmarked Valentine Holmes to score in the 35th minute.

Holmes gets the Cowboys on the board

  • A try by Jeremiah Nanai from a kick just four minutes after the break gave the Cowboys the lead for the first time in the game.
  • At that point, Lachlan Croker came forward to seemingly take control of the game and tried to give Tuipulotu a second try with a long kick in the 48th minute.


  • Croker then produced a 40/20 kick and scored a try himself after jumping on a ball into Daly Cherry-Evans’ in-goal in the 61st minute.
  • The Sea Eagles hooker then extended the home side’s lead to 26-12 when he crossed over for his second try three minutes later.

Lachlan goes long

  • Still, the game was far from over, as the Sea Eagles soon realized it when hooker Reece Robson scored in the 72nd minute and winger Connelly Lemuelu crossed the ball a minute later.
  • Valentine Holmes then put North Queensland ahead when he picked up a loose pass from Cherry-Evans to Koula and sprinted 90 meters to score in the 76th minute to take a stunning 28-26 win.

Holmes run play

Playing the game

The Cowboys had never really looked forward to winning until Connelly Lemuelu scored a spectacular try in the 73rd minute to put the visitors within reach. Jason Taumalolo started the move and Tom Dearden put Valentine Holmes through a hole, but Lemuelu still had some work to do.

Lemuelu scores a great rugby league try

what they said

NRL Press Conference: Sea Eagles v Cowboys – Round 15, 2022

What’s next

The Sea Eagles host the Storm in the next installment of the Battle of Brookvale at 4 Pines Park on the Thursday following Origin II, while the Cowboys continue their epic rivalry with the Broncos in a Queensland derby clash on Saturday, July 2.

Manly coach Des Hasler will be monitoring the condition of Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans just four days after playing in Perth and slot Jake Trbojevic may also be involved.

The Sea Eagles also have a large number of players involved in international competitions during the stand-alone representative round, including Martin Taupau, Josh Schuster, Toff Sipley and Josh Aloiai from Samoa, playmaker Kiwi Kieran Foran and Haumole Olakau’atu from Tonga, Tolutau Koula and Christian. Tuipulotu.

Cowboys coach Todd Payten may have the services of new recruit Luciano Leilua available for the Broncos clash after the Samoa forward was given an early release from Wests Tigers.

Valentine Holmes and Jeremiah Nanai are expected to keep their place on the Queensland squad and could be joined by Murray Taulagi or Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, while Reuben Cotter is in doubt after injuring his hamstring during the warm-up.

Jason Taumalo (Tonga), Peta Hiku and Griffin Neame (both New Zealand) will be on international duty this weekend.

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