Raiders v Cowboys: Five key points
A Jack Wighton double has inspired the Raiders to an important 26-12 win over an Origin-depleted Cowboys side in Canberra on Monday night to move within one point of the competition's top four.
Jack Wighton continues North Queensland love affair
Raiders fullback Jack Wighton will be hoping an anomaly in the draw for 2017 sees his side take on the Cowboys every week. Wighton has only scored three doubles in his career, but two of them have come against the 2015 premiers, including one on Monday night. In fact, the Raiders No.1 now boasts seven tries from as many matches against the Cowboys, easily his highest tally against any NRL club. The 23-year-old has had a mixed season in 2016 but was at his mercurial best with 163 metres, seven tackle breaks and two line breaks to go with his two-try haul.
Coen Hess is a star in the making
The beauty of the Origin period is that we get to see the next wave of talent get a crack at NRL level. Coen Hess has already shown that he can handle the step up to first grade, and Monday night confirmed he can also thrive at the top level. Playing 80 minutes for the first time in his three-game career, the 2015 Junior Kangaroo and Maroon scored a try, ran for 145 metres and made 31 tackles. At just 19 years of age, the sky is the limit for the highly-gifted Cowboy who is already making a name for himself in the Queensland Cup.
Repeat sets prove crucial
There is no denying the value of a repeat set in the modern game, and that was certainly the case on Monday night. The Raiders scored two tries from penalties, another one off a line dropout, and their fourth came from a seven-tackle set. The importance of a set start at the right end of the field is crucial these days given the threat of structured set plays.
Josh Chudleigh returns to haunt former team
Cowboys hooker Jake Granville was expected to cause the most headaches out of any rake on Monday night, but it was his little-known deputy, Josh Chudleigh, who did most of the damage. Playing in his first NRL game, the 2012 SG Ball Raider returned to the nation's capital to play a starring role off the bench with a sensational try on debut. Slicing through the initial wave of defence, the 2014 NYC Cowboys Player of the Year swooped past Wighton with a vicious step to become the 15th player this season to score on debut. In just 29 minutes of action, Chudleigh justified his selection in the 2015 Queensland Cup Team of the Year with a performance that could attract offers from other clubs before season's end.
Uprights earn a rare try assist
Fox Sports commentator Andrew Voss confirmed that the padding on the posts at GIO Stadium was NRL standard, but that will be little consolation to the Cowboys. The seemingly extra-cushiony pads proved telling midway through the first half as a grubber from Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer cannoned into the uprights, before sitting up for Josh Hodgson to break the 6-6 deadlock. It's not the first time we've seen a playmaker aim for the posts in 2016, and it certainly won't be the last.