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Cowboys' comeback win over Sea Eagles marred by pre-game injury to Reuben Cotter

By AAP
(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

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Queensland coach Billy Slater will be on the hunt for a new lock for Origin II after Reuben Cotter withdrew from the North Queensland Cowboys’ miraculous 28-26 comeback win over Manly.

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Cotter, who made his Maroons debut with a sterling performance in Origin I, pulled up with a hamstring complaint in the warm-up and did not take the field.

The lock will go for scans in Sydney but coach Todd Payten said it was unlikely he would be boarding the plane to Perth for the second game of the Origin series.

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“It’s going to be a fair stretch for him to get going in 10 days,” Payten said.

“A kid of his size relies on his speed and power and that’s where it has hurt his hamstring.”

There was also concern for another Maroons hopeful in Cowboys winger Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, who had been vying with teammate Murray Taulagi to take Xavier Coates’ spot on the wing.

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Tabuai-Fidow copped a lazy knee from Manly’s Morgan Harper as he gathered a loose ball and did not return to the field.

“It all happens really quickly, I’d have liked it to have been on report so we get a free interchange, but it wasn’t intentional,” Payten said.

Cotter and Tabuai-Fidow missed out on one of the most famous wins in Cowboys’ history as they trailed 26-12 in front of 9662 expectant fans at Brookvale Oval with seven minutes to go..

The Cowboys flipped the script to bag three tries in as many minutes and secure a valuable victory.

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Reece Robson grabbed their first with Connelly Lemuelu following him over the whitewash after an audacious Taulagi offload before Valentine Holmes sealed the winner with a breakaway try off the back of a Daly Cherry-Evans error.

The Cowboys had been slow out of the blocks without the talismanic Cotter, allowing Christian Tuipolotu and Harper to push the Sea Eagles out to a 10-0 lead after 24 minutes.

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Holmes and Jeremiah Nanai scored either side of the break before Tuipolotu responded and outjumped Taulagi to dot down.

Having lost Kieran Foran to a head injury assessment, Manly needed a moment of inspiration and it came in the shape of a 40/20 kick from workmanlike hooker Lachlan Croker.

He pounced on an in-goal grubberkick from Daly Cherry-Evans on the next set to push Manly ahead.

Croker dived on a second loose ball to score, which looked to have secured the Sea Eagles’ first win over a top-eight opponent this season.

But the chance to end that record, and secure their fifth straight win at Brookvale Oval fell to pieces, with the Cowboys adding their late treble of tries to seal victory.

“They just kept hanging in and they’ve got those individuals who can hurt you,” said Manly coach Des Hasler.

“I think we played with a really good temperament and I’ll make no excuses but we shouldn’t have lost that game.

“The players are very disappointed about it. We should have closed that game out.”

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