Santo opens his account in under- 20s debut
CHARTERS Towers product Zac Santo scored on debut for the North Queensland Cowboys under-20s in their 24-20 win over the Newcastle Knights on Saturday.
Santo’s try came in the second half of an entertaining contest that went down to the very last play, with the Cowboys fending off a late Knights fightback after leading by 14 points with 25 minutes l eft at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
Cowboys f i v e - e i g ht h Michael Parker-Walshe made a bust up the middle of the park before passing to Moses Pangai, who off-loaded for Santo to race in and score untouched and put the home team up 24-10.
The play covered the length of the field and capped off a perfect introduction for Santo, who made his way on to the interchange bench following the late withdrawal of Chris Grevsmuhl with injury.
Santo’s debut coincided with the Cowboys’ first win of the NYC sea- son, as the team made amends for their shock 46-24 defeat at the hands of the Brisbane Broncos in round one.
It was the Knights, however, who threatened to pull off yet another ambush in the same style as the Broncos.
Two Newcastle tries inside the first 14 minutes could have proved fatal for less classy sides, but an average team the young Cowboys are not.
Cowboys hooker Jay Lobwein got his team back in the game with a powerful try in the left-hand corner, and interchange forward Nathan Norford added another with a crafty run from dummy half from 15 metres out.
The Cowboys led 12-10 at halftime and extended that advantage by six points when 17-year-ol d Santo crossed for his try 12 minutes into the second half.
Hul k i n g s e c o n d - r o wer J a s o n Taumalolo was next in after taking a hit-up just inches from the Knights line, his show of sheer force proving too much for two Newcastle de- fenders who were left haplessly hanging off the future NRL star.
Up 24-10 and back to the form of premiership favourites, the Cowboys faced a test of nerves as the Knights surged back with two unanswered tries.
But a much-improved defensive effort held off the comeback and the Cowboys ended the close-run contest with a deserved win.