Cowboys players were left in disbelief following a 1-point loss to the Roosters in the NRL semi-finals. (Getty Images)
By Caden Helmers
The Sydney Roosters have won what was arguably the game of the season following a crucial refereeing decision, whilst the Cowboys road ended amidst controversy once more at the Sydney Football Stadium.
With his side down 30-0 early on, Cowboys playmaker Jonathan Thurston worked his magic to level the scores at 30-30, before a field goal from Roosters ace James Maloney put his side ahead 31-30 with four minutes left on the clock.
Thurston hit back by scoring a remarkable try in the final minutes of play to cap off what would have been one of the greatest comeback wins of all time, but was called back due to a knock on earlier in the play.
For the second year in a row, controversial refereeing decisions have cost the Cowboys their season, leaving Thurston and his side much to think about.
“I’m still filthy. We just lost a final. It still hurts.” said the shattered star following the match, acknowledging the poor start as the reason for the loss.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but the start is what put us under the pump. It’s a massive learning curve for the boys and we need to learn from it.”
Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce brought the home crowd to their feet in Anthony Minichiello’s record equalling 301st game for the club, as he dashed 95 metres to score in the third minute.
The Cowboys missed a golden opportunity to level the scores, and the boys from Bondi made them pay, running in four more tries to lead 30-0 after 30 minutes.
A rare mistake from stalwart Anthony Minichiello saw the Cowboys cross for their first, and they followed it up four minutes later to go in to the halftime break down 30-12.
The second half started in similar fashion to how the first half finished, and the Cowboys scored through the individual brilliance of Thurston to reduce the deficit to two converted tries.
Another uncharacteristic error at the back from Minicheillo saw Robert Lui score for the visitors, and pure will power saw enforcer Matt Scott barge through the defence to give Thurston the chance to level the scores.
Level the scores he did, and the Cowboys had come from behind to sit at 30-30 with a visibly shaken Roosters side.
Roosters back-rower Sonny Bill Williams spilt the ball in a tackle, but was controversially awarded a penalty, allowing James Maloney to slot the match winner off the ensuing set.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said that did not think he had “ever seen a footy game like it. I don’t think I’ve coached one like that. It would have been easy to pull out and concentrate on what we did wrong. It takes a courageous bunch of blokes to fight back.”
The Roosters now await the results of the other semi-finals to see who they play for a chance to defend their premiership crown.