Cowboys see off Roosters to book Storm decider
North Queensland Cowboys will face Melbourne Storm in the NRL Grand Final after the 2015 premiers defeated Sydney Roosters 29-16 in a thrilling preliminary final on Saturday.
Favourites Storm cruised into the decider thanks to a comprehensive 30-0 victory over Brisbane Broncos a day earlier.
And the Cowboys have earned the right to go up against Craig Bellamy's team by pulling clear at the end of a dramatic shootout with the Roosters at Sydney's Allianz Stadium.
North Queensland made it through to the decider despite being without Johnathan Thurston during the second half of the season, the injured captain watching on as late tries from Kyle Feldt and Scott Bolton, together with kicking of Ethan Lowe and Michael Morgan, got Paul Green's team across the line.
After a cagey start to the game, Lowe opened the scoring with a North Queensland penalty, Te Maire Martin and Latrell Mitchell trading converted tries for the Cowboys and Roosters respectively to see Green's men go in 8-6 ahead at the break.
The Roosters struck early in the second half, Mitchell Pearce's quick ball releasing Boyd Cordner, who raced clear before passing to Connor Watson for a simple score.
North Queensland quickly hit back through Kane Linnett, the centre crossing after doing brilliantly to hold a firm Morgan pass, who showed good handling skills of his own in the build-up
The nervy opening to the contest was well and truly forgotten when Blake Ferguson was found by Justin O'Neill and beat three defenders to power over in the corner and make it 16-14 to the Roosters with 19 minutes to go.
The thrilling shootout continued courtesy of Cowboy Feldt, who benefited from a video replay to be awarded a try in the 66th minute after touching down a split second before being bundled into touch by the Roosters defence.
Lowe converted once again and then sent over a penalty to afford the Cowboys a precious 22-16 advantage entering the last 10 minutes.
And they made the game safe with a Morgan drop goal and Bolton's try in the final moments.