Scott Drinkwater's late penalty goal gives the North Queensland Cowboys a surprise 18-16 win over the Sydney Roosters


The North Queensland Cowboys overcame a 4-16 deficit to beat the Sydney Roosters 18-16 thanks to a late penalty goal from Scott Drinkwater.

Drinkwater missed a conversion attempt in the 71st minute that could have given the Cowboys the lead, but made amends three minutes later with a game-winning penalty from his preferred right side of the pitch.

It seemed as though these losses were too much for them when Sam Walker scored a penalty to give the Roosters a 16-4 lead with half an hour to go. But the Cowboys refused to give up.

“We had a real 'us against the world' mentality. I told the guys, 'If we win this week, it will be the best win of the year,'” Cowboys halfback Chad Townsend told ABC Sport.

Powerful tries from Drinkwater and Kulikefu Finefeuiaki got the Cowboys back into the game before repeated pressure on the Roosters line forced a penalty and Drinkwater scored the game-winning two-point shot.

“That would be one of my favorite wins in that jersey,” said Drinkwater.

Check out how the action unfolded in the live blog below and watch all current statistics in our ScoreCentre.

Key events

We will log off there

What a day for the young and undermanned Cowboys. I'm sure the stars in Origin camp had fun, although it was perhaps a little harder for Reece Robson who was watching it in NSW camp.

And now it's all set for State of Origin. Our next live blog will be the opening match of the men's series at Sydney's Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night, followed by the women's second match at a sold-out Hunter Stadium on Thursday.

And we have the round-up tomorrow morning on ABC Sports.

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Payten praises Purdue

North Queensland coach Todd Payten has high praise for everyone in his team, but particularly praises debutant Jaxon Purdue.

Jaxon Purdue of the Cowboys runs with the ball during an NRL game.

“Considering he is a halfback and this is his first game as a centre. He has two [training] meetings. He impressed everyone at the club.

“He's just one of those footballers who knows where he stands. If he keeps a clear head and keeps working hard, he'll be a very, very good player.”

Trent Robinson praises the Cowboys for his team's lack of discipline

Joey Manu of the Roosters kneels as the Cowboys celebrate a try in an NRL game.

I've watched a lot of NRL press conferences this year and Trent Robinson's comments about the Cowboys are probably the most unequivocal praise for a winning team that I've heard from a coach who came out on top in such a close game.

“They constantly pushed us deep into our 10-meter line. The amount of bombs Dom [Young] And [Daniel Tupou] had to take and then [Cowboys] remained discipline in this [defensive] Sentence.

“We just didn't have the same composure. This was a game we had to win 16-12.”

Robinson acknowledges that the late shift was tough for Joey Manu, as he moved from central defence to full-back within a matter of hours after James Tedesco’s call-up to the State of Originbut is visibly disappointed by the performance of the New Zealand star.

“Joey didn't have his best night tonight. He was far from his usual quality.

“I expect us to be able to adapt. Our backbone overall wasn't good enough tonight.”

Luke Keary agrees.

“It was bad. Probably the worst it's been since the Bulldogs game. [a 30-26 loss in round five].”

“Us against the rest of the world” mentality among the Cowboys

North Queensland Cowboys players enter the field during an NRL match.

With six of their best players missing due to State of Origin, Chad Townsend and Jason Taumalolo are delighted with this win.

“Everyone who came into the team this week has really tried hard,” Taumalolo told ABC Sport.

Townsend said: “We had a real 'us against the world' mentality. I told the guys, 'If we win this week, it will be the best win of the year.'”

And what about the young players Jaxon Purdue and Jamal Shibasaki, two 18-year-olds who shone in their debut today?

“They are the future of the club. It’s exciting to see some of these guys,” says Townsend.

Scott Drinkwater says: “That would be one of my favorite wins in that jersey.”

FULL TIME: The Cowboys beat the Roosters!

Chad Townsend pats his Cowboys teammate Scott Drinkwater on the head during an NRL game.

The Roosters attempt one final play from about 65 yards out with 10 seconds left and throw 15 passes, attempting twice to set up a two-point field goal, then Sam Walker strikes and the game ends with the ball in the hands of 18-year-old debutant Jaxon Purdue.

You might say, “Yeah, well, the Roosters were missing James Tedesco, Joseph-Aukuso Sua'ali'i and Angus Crichton,” but the Cowboys were without captain Tom Dearden, hooker Reece Robson, Valentine Holmes, Murray Taulagi, Jeremiah Nanai and Reuben Cotter. That's a massive win for a team that has struggled this year.

80' The Cowboys give the ball back to the Roosters 100 metres away

78' Another heroic moment for Scott Drinkwater

The Roosters survive the set at their try line and immediately turn right, sending Dom Young out to the right wing. But the defence closes in and Scott Drinkwater forces a knock-on from Young as he attempts to place the ball on his toe.

77' The Roosters under pressure

Sam Walker blocks Scott Drinkwater's kick, but the ball rebounds to Jaxon Purdue, who flies into Sydney's 10-meter zone.

So it's a complete set for the Cowboys at the goal line.

76' Dom Young knocks and the Cowboys ride again

The Roosters' flying winger climbs over Braidon Burns for a catch that has little impact and Young looks destined for the line but he has to offload at the tackle of Kulikefu Finefeuiaki and drops the ball a metre from goal!

Scott Drinkwater puts the Cowboys in the lead!

Scott Drinkwater shoots at goal for the North Queensland Cowboys.

This time, the Cowboys' fullback makes no mistake and shoots the ball into the goal from the right side to give them an 18:16 lead.

“If they manage to do that, it will be the biggest surprise of the year,” John Gibbs said on the sidelines for ABC Sport.

The Roosters manage the short kickoff again, so it remains to be seen “if they can pull it off”.

72' Great move by the Cowboys forces the Roosters out

Dom Young marks the bomb and panics as three cowboys push him towards the sideline, so he throws the ball backwards and Joey Manu clears it but is pushed to the sideline.

And the Roosters are penalised for coming off the line too quickly, so Scott Drinkwater has ONE MORE chance to score a penalty and take the lead.


Scott Drinkwater misses for the second time today and this was the worst of all: about 20 meters from the touchline he narrowly misses the ball.

Although the Cowboys scored three tries to two in the last ten minutes, the score is 16-16.

The Cowboys are in and Drinkwater will kick for the lead!

A surprise dummy half-pass from Sandon Smith puts the Cowboys with the ball in Roosters territory and they top it off with a brilliant run from Kulikefu Finefeuiaki, who neatly catches an off-line pass from Jake Clifford and beats three defenders on the try line.

67' What a game from Drinkwater

The Cowboys' fullback, under pressure, catches a bomb throw from Junior Pauga and beats him and three or four other defenders to get straight to halftime on the first pass.

But the set ends with a kick that starts a contest between Daniel Tupou and Kyle Feldt, in which Feldt does not want to take part.

65' Joey Manu with a blatant double move

Joey Manu runs with the ball for the Sydney Roosters in an NRL game.

Away from the scrum, Michael Jennings comes close and Joey Manu sees a chance as dummy-half from close range.

He tries to jump over, is pulled down briefly, then just gets up and tries again. Clear penalty for the Cowboys.

“That's probably the biggest double move I've ever seen,” Luke Lewis tells ABC Sport. I think I have to agree.

65' Scott Drinkwater makes a mistake under the high ball

He has been pretty flawless so far today, but Scott Drinkwater's seemingly inevitable high ball error finally happens to him when he hits the ball in a duel with Joey Manu.

And they foolishly challenge it and lose.

61' The Cowboys survive

The Roosters applied pressure and Luke Keary's shot seemed destined for Joey Manu's basket, but Scott Drinkwater managed to disturb him in the air and force a clearance.

Meanwhile, North Queensland has grown to 13 men again with the return of Heilum Luki.

57' The Cowboys get a penalty and make it two?!

North Queensland is down 16-10 and will try to get to 16-12 with a penalty kick. A strange decision, even if it saves Heilum Luki some time in the penalty box.

It's also an interesting quirk of the six-again rule. They got a new set on the Roosters' line for a ruck infringement and then the ball spun out and was headed on by Braidon Burns, meaning it came back for the penalty.

So if a team was tied or two goals down and scored another six-pointer, why not just Tom Brady the ball down the field and make it a penalty goal instead?

Anyway, all this is to say that the Roosters lead 16-12.

Far too easy for Scott Drinkwater and the Cowboys are back in the game

Drinkwater had troubled Braidon with his passing in the first half and now he has overrun him with his running game, bursting at speed between Sam Walker and Michael Jennings as they slid across and back into the defence.

Drinkwater converts and the Cows are six points ahead with 25 minutes to go.

53' Braidon Burns is out with a knee injury

The Cowboys winger is down clutching a knee and after a long pause, Sam Walker is penalized for a cannonball tackle. It wasn't a particularly hard hit, but it hit Burns' right knee as he was tackling.

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