Cowboys stage miracle comeback to book GF spot
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Warwick Cowboys have booked their spot in the TRL Premiership grand final in the most thrilling of circumstances.
Finding themselves down 24-4 just moments into the second half, the Cowboys launched a stirring comeback, piling on four unanswered tries to claim a 26-24 victory.
The comeback was completed in the 76th minute, as Valleys fullback Gerome Burns was caught ball-watching in the in-goal, with Mitch Watson getting a hand to the ball to steal the unlikeliest of victories.
Valleys had the best possible start, pushing deep into Warwick territory off the back of an early penalty, before Hnaloan Budden crashed over the line in the far corner in the third minute of play.
Despite not having much of the early ball, the Cowboys were able to hold out another Valleys charge, and get one back of their own as Joe Fuimaono drew in a number of defenders, before offloading to Mitch Watson who touched down out wide.
The Roosters took the lead once more as Dwayne Duncan was gifted a perfect bounce off a Ben Cook chip kick on the Cowboys line, with the ball evading a number of Warwick players for the centre to score under the posts.
Valleys were centimetres away from extending their lead as Zac Miles latched onto a pin-point banana kick from Cory McGrady, only to put a foot on the touch-line before grounding the ball.
Budden looked close to bringing up a double in the 32nd minute as he made a clean break through the Cowboys defensive line, however they were able to add a penalty goal with a player ruled to be held back in the process, pushing them out to a 12-4 lead.
Warwick blew a golden opportunity to cut the deficit just minutes out from half-time, with a Joe Fuiamono pass going astray just metres from the line.
They found themselves even further in the doldrums immediately after, as Craig Donn was unable to control a kick, with the rebound falling into the arms of Budden for his second, giving Valleys a handy 18-4 lead at half-time.
The Cowboys barely had time to catch their breath before Budden claimed his third, with the second-rower adding further pain to Warwick less than a minute after the start of the second half.
Not determined to go down without a fight, Warwick hit back with a try of its own in the 45th minute, as Fuimaono snuck his way over from dummy half to cut the deficit back to 24-10.
Their momentum continued to build, and they cut further into the lead as Craig Donn got on the end of a superb inside ball from Harry Sullivan to score under the black dot.
A piece of individual brilliance from Coedie Tandy helped the Cowboys to within two points, as he made a break through the middle of the field, before finding a rampaging Mathew Marshall who crossed the stripe.
Warwick will now meet the winner of next weekend's preliminary final between Valleys and Wattles in the TRL grand final on September 8.
WARWICK 26 (Mitch Watson 2, Joe Fuimaono, Craig Donn, Mathew Marshall tries; Marshall 3 goals) defeated VALLEYS 24 (Hnaloan Budden 3, Dwayne Duncan tries; Duncan 4 goals)