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Cowboys' edge struggles but a half surprises, and the Dragons receive a wake up call in their 28-22 victory over North Queensland.

Game of two halves

Neither coach will be impressed with their side's performance for contrasting reasons.

The opening 40 minutes from the Cowboys was abysmal, while the Dragons were flat in the second and allowed the visitors back in the contest on the back of a high error rate.

Cowboys coach Paul Green said the first-half display was too much to come back from.

"That backend of the first half we switched off in both aspects and the game got away from us," he said post-game.

"Our ball control and last-play options were pretty ordinary but I knew if we could just put some pressure on them we would put on some points to get us back into the game."


Left-edge torments Cowboys

Justin O'Neill and Kyle Feldt had an unhappy night for the visitors with the Dragons running the pair ragged in the opening 40 minutes with four tries coming from Gareth Widdop, Tim Lafai and Kurt Mann.

Green admitted Feldt was down on confidence, while O'Neill was only coming back from injury. 

"That right-edge has been our strongest side defensively but the combinations haven't been there this year and they were rusty tonight," Green said.

"To be fair, it's been a little bit disrupted too. Justin just come back tonight and [Ethan] Lowe has been there and now [Coen] Hess is there.

"[Feldt's] not playing as well as he can."

Dragons' wake up call

It was possibly a win that will hold Paul McGregor's side in good stead for the rest of the season. 

In a similar situation to the game against the Warriors in Round 4, the Dragons raced out to a commanding lead before being forced to defend their way with a limited amount of possession in the second half.

Now with a nine-day turnaround, the Dragons will look to secure their third straight victory in their Anzac Day clash with the Roosters on Monday-week.

"We'll take the two points and work on what went wrong for next week," McGregor said.

"This game has certainly something to come out of it."


Asiata proves his worth

Replacing Johnathan Thurston was always going to prove a difficult task for the Cowboys but the unlikeliest of combinations almost got the visitors over the line.

Utility forward John Asiata was a late inclusion in Paul Green's starting line-up and surprised many with his attacking display.

The 23-year-old set up two tries late in the second half and got better as the game went on as the Cowboys got on a roll.

While the commentators were left surprised at the ball-playing ability of the forward, Asiata played his junior football in the halves before making the move into the pack when he moved to North Queensland.

"I thought John would execute well with the skillset he's got but for him it's a learning curve and a big ask to play in the halves after playing lock for most of your NRL career," Green said.

"I was pleased with his effort and the job he did tonight."

Rookies' mixed bag

There were two key moments late in the game that could have gone differently for the visitors when Cowboys fullback Kalyn Ponga broke through the line before placing a kick when he could've have chosen differently.

The young rookie couldn't get enough angle off the foot but could of had Gideon Gela-Mosby in open space to level the game had he passed or kicked the ball further downfield.

Gela-Mosby was also dragged over the touchline and spilled the ball as the Cowboys looked to level the game with minutes remaining.

While the two have shown their exciting capabilities, if they had their time over they could have done things differently.

"[Our rookies] are learning some tough lessons at the moment," Green said.

"We're blooding some kids and will be better down the track.

"It will hold us in good stead for games later on."

Ponga will face the Knights – his future club – for the first time should he be named in Green's side next week. 

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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