Wests Tigers have won ugly in Townsville, beating North Queensland 27-26 in extra time thanks to a 73rd-minute penalty try to Michael Chee-Kam and a field goal to the evergreen Benji Marshall.
Chee-Kam was in the process of scoring a try when he was caught across the head by Cowboys fullback Jordan Kahu which knocked the ball free.
The incident was sent upstairs as a no-try by the referees but, on closer inspection, the bunker reversed the decision to give the Tigers the lead.
But after a Cowboys penalty goal equalled the scores, it was five-eighth Marshall who won the match, potting a field goal in extra time.
Cowboys Coach Paul Green was furious with the controversial penalty-try ruling.
“There is no way you can say that was a penalty try. There is no way you can guarantee he will score that,” he said.
His counterpart Michael McGuire predictably had a different view.
That’s their job to decide. We were lucky tonight, we haven’t had many of those go our way so it was nice to get one.”
North Queensland had fought out of an 18-0 hole, unable to stop an avalanche of Tigers tries in the early stages; second-rower Chee-Kam, Ryan Matterson and David Nofoaluma all scoring to make up for their scoreless night against Canberra the week before.
But a fortuitous run of events turned the match the way of the Cowboys when Kyle Feldt, Javid Bowen and Michael Morgan all scored after Tigers errors.
Their comeback took full flight in the 68th minute when Morgan threw a marvellous cut out ball for Feldt’s second to take the lead for the first time in the match.
But after Chee-Kam’s controversial second score and a frantic period of extra time, in which the Tigers had three attempts at Marshall’s winner, the home side were left with nothing.
It might get worse for North Queensland with representative forward Coen Hess unable to return to the field after being left clutching at his knee early in the second half.
Both sides have next weekend off; the Tigers will take on South Sydney on Thursday June 27, while the Cowboys will be away the following night to St George Illawarra.
Melbourne Storm thumps Newcastle
Melbourne extended its lead at the top of the NRL ladder and ended Newcastle’s winning streak with a 34-4 victory at AAMI Park on Saturday.
The Knights went into the riding a run of six successive wins but it was the Storm who emerged with their 11th victory of the season with another dominant display.
There were a number of State of Origin aspirants on show, with all eyes on Knights halfback Mitchell Pearce, who is tipped for a recall to the Blues.
It was hard to get a read on the No.7 with his team mostly on the back foot, although he didn’t appear a match for Melbourne’s Queensland playmaker Cameron Munster.
While both teams struggled with some early errors, the Storm got the scoreboard ticking over in the 13th minute when giant prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona broke through to find fullback Jahrome Hughes.
Despite controlling the match the home side only led 12-0 at halftime, with their other try coming off a Will Chambers grubber kick into the in-goal for a chasing Josh Addo-Carr.
The Knights’ cause wasn’t helped with second-rower Mitch Barnett put on report in the 35th minute for a crusher tackle on Hughes.
They also had winger Edrick Lee sinbinned early in the second half for a professional foul as he took out Storm skipper Cameron Smith as he chased a kick through to the tryline.
The floodgates opened for Melbourne in the second half, as they scored four tries including a double for Bulldogs-bound second-rower Joe Stimson.
Newcastle centre Hymel Hunt scored the visitors solitary try after Queensland Origin fullback Kalyn Ponga created the opening in the 47th minute, but the rest of the half was one-way traffic.