With the Cowboys looking to pick up their second win of the season and the Bulldogs their first, a 40-minute grind saw the match evenly poised at six points apiece at the interim.
It was Kyle Feldt who opened the scoring with his first try of the season in the seventh minute, soaring above the Bulldogs’ defence to catch and ground a pinpoint Ben Hampton chip kick.
Canterbury wasted no time in replying, levelling the scores in the 13th minute through a pivotal Jack Hetherington offload that found the hands of Renouf Atoni who busted his way over.
Opportunities went begging for both sides on the way to a deadlocked interval, with enthusiasm unable to equate to points.
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Unfazed by a low-scoring opening half, North Queensland was able to pile some pain on the Bulldogs early in the second half.
Reece Robson bounced out of dummy half and fooled the defence to give the home side their second try, and Ben Condon busted over soon after to stretch the lead to 12.
Some dynamic passing and a damaging Valentine Holmes run sent Jake Granville over the stripe in the 59th minute to extend the Cowboys’ lead to three tries, but that was only the beginning of Canterbury’s woes.
Barely minutes earlier, controversy had erupted as Hetherington was sent off for a flooring clothesline on Valentine Holmes.
Reduced to 12-men, and with a seemingly dead contest now emotion-charged, the Bulldogs rallied against the odds.
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Kyle Flanagan scored his first try as a Bulldog, courtesy of a creative close-range Tuipulotu Katoa grubber.
Having created the last try, it was Katoa again, this time finishing asCanterbury’s extra man wide despite their numbers disadvantage.
With the game poised at 24-18, a thrilling finish few would have foreseen now loomed, and it didn’t disappoint.
Against all odds, Will Hopoate looked to have leveled the scores with under four minutes remaining, capitalising on North Queensland fumbles.
But it wasn’t to be, Nick Cotric – cruelly in the eyes of some – ruled offside having been involved in the play.
Mitchell Dunn ensured the Bulldogs remained winless as of round six, scoring in the clutches of full-time to rub salt into the fresh and deep wounds of Canterbury. 30-18 the end result as North Queensland move to 2-4.