NYC Roosters poised for top-two finish
The Roosters have leapfrogged the Cowboys into second spot on the Holden Cup ladder with a convincing 42-24 win at Allianz Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In what had been a round of missed opportunities for top eight sides, Anthony Barnes's men made no mistakes on their home turf to move one point clear of North Queensland with three games remaining.
Both teams butchered chances in the opening 10 minutes with Reuben Porter spilling the ball over the line for the Roosters, before North Queensland No.9 Brandon Smith followed suit from the very next set.
The Tricolours weren't so lucky five minutes later when Smith – who is set to join the Melbourne Storm next season - shot through from near halfway to position Ty Carucci for the afternoon's first points.
Not to be outdone, the home side hit back quickly with Bernard Lewis pouncing on a perfectly-weighted grubber from Jackson Hastings to level the scores midway through the first half.
Fresh from his NRL debut on Monday night, Grant Garvey showed his class to set up fullback Kiah Cooper with a deft grubber out of dummy-half to give the Roosters the lead.
After grabbing his side's first try, Carucci turned provider twice in the space of five minutes, first sending back-rower Cody Maughan over, before the Cowboys No.6 grubbered through for Enari Tuala to make it 16-12.
A see-sawing first 40 ended with Roosters lock Nat Butcher powering through some soft defence to crash over to give his side a slender two-point advantage at the break.
It took a bizarre passage of play to produce the first points of the second half as a Hastings chip kick appeared to be gathered in by Cowboys winger Nathan Traill, only for Jarred Anderson to strip the ball over the line to extend the Roosters' lead.
That try seemed to break the shackles as Garvey darted over to make it 30-16, only for Tahanui Tutavake to respond with his own effort from dummy-half to make it a 10-point game with 20 minutes remaining.
Any hopes of a North Queensland comeback were put to bed when Sukamanu Raki somehow reached out to score despite appearing to be held by three would-be defenders close to the line.
The visitors pegged one back through Nathan Traill but were reduced to 12 men for the final six minutes of the contest when Brandon Smith was sent to the sin bin for dissent.
Butcher crossed late for his second of the afternoon to complete the 18-point victory that puts the Roosters in pole position for a top-two finish.
NYC Roosters 42 (Nat Butcher 2, Bernard Lewis, Kiah Cooper, Jarred Anderson, Grant Garvey, Sukamanu Raki tries; Jackson Hastings 7 goals) defeated NYC Cowboys 24 (Ty Carucci, Cody Maughan, Enari Tuala, Tahanui Tutavake, Nathan Traill tries; Ty Carucci 2 goals) at Allianz Stadium. Half-time: 18-16 Roosters.