In their opening game of the 2023 season, North Queensland hung on to claim a thrilling one-point victory, 19-18, against Canberra, who mounted an impressive comeback in the second half.
The Cowboys took control of the match in the first half, taking a commanding 18-0 lead with Scott Drinkwater scoring two tries and the spine of Tom Dearden and Reece Robson proving heavily involved in their setup. Despite the Raiders defending well and denying the Cowboys multiple try-scoring opportunities, Murray Taulagi finally crossed the line in the 25th minute.
The momentum shifted when Raiders forward Emre Guler scored a try late in the first half, giving the visitors a much-needed boost. They came out firing in the second half and were able to level the score with back-to-back tries from Tom Starling and Jack Wighton in the 53rd and 57th minutes, respectively.
With the game tied at 18-18, the match was poised for a grandstand finish. After some tense back-and-forth play, Chad Townsend was able to secure the win for North Queensland with a calmly executed field goal in the 75th minute. The Raiders fought hard until the final whistle, but were unable to snatch the win away from the home side.