Bulldogs burst reels in Cowboys
Canterbury have heaped further pressure on the coaching career of North Queensland boss Neil Henry, coming from behind to score a 36-26 victory and inflict the Cowboys' fifth straight NRL loss.
Bulldogs burst reels in Cowboysby AAP
TOWNSVILLE, Qld, June 8 AAP - Canterbury have heaped further pressure on the coaching career of North Queensland boss Neil Henry, coming from behind to score a 36-26 victory and inflict the Cowboys' fifth straight NRL loss.
The Cowboys looked the better side for the much of the game in Townsville on Saturday night and took a 20-12 lead with 30 minutes remaining.
But the Bulldogs racked up the next 24 points to storm into the top eight.
The four-try burst added further misery to the flailing Cowboys, who were missing star five-eighth Johnathan Thurston with a groin injury carried over from Wednesday night's State of Origin match.
Halfback Robert Lui picked up the playmaking duties for the Cowboys and played his best since returning from a year-long suspension to have a role in all four of his team's tries, including a consolation four-pointer of his own in the dying minutes.
Thurston's absence was one of four changes made to the team, with hooker Rory Kostjasyn and winger Ashley Graham also ruled out to injury on game day.
The Bulldogs had three of their own pull out, with Josh Morris and Josh Reynolds coming into the team along with Tony Williams.
Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba backed up his two tries in the first half to lay on the final pass for Mitch Brown to put his team back in the game when the home side lead by eight points midway through the second half.
The wheels started to fall off for the Cowboys after that, with Williams, Greg Eastwood and Trent Hodkinson taking advantage of some Cowboys errors to easily run in for tries.
In another sour note for the Cowboys, replacement five-eighth Michael Morgan left the field after re-injuring his left shoulder.
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was happy to claim a critical win ahead of next week's visit to his former club Manly at Brookvale Oval.
"It's always a tough game up here," he said.
"We knew the Cowboys were under a bit of the pump having only recorded four wins, and obviously they've had a few out so we count ourselves fortunate we got the two points here."
He had a simple summary of the game, saying the referees had been too involved in the contest.
"I think you can sum it up this way - we were ugly, the Cows were probably a little bit uglier but the referees were the ugliest," he said.
Hasler said he believed the match officials needed to give the players more chances to let the game continue.
"Probably, overdoing, over-ruling each other, over-analysing and when's a knock-on a knock-on?," he said.
"(It went) both ways and I think it's just in critical parts of the field.
"Just let the game flow, let it go."
Cowboys coach Neil Henry, who accepted there was mounting pressure on himself and his underperforming side, said it was a disappointing to let the Bulldogs in for so many easy tries in another patchy performance.
"The boys are putting in a fair bit of work for each other against a very big pack, I think we contained them quite well for patches of that game and you look at conceding six tries and you think 'where did they come from?'" he said.
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