Cowboys take out Raiders trial behind Feldt hat-trick

Alex Mitchell |

North Queensland have won a high-scoring NRL trial win over Canberra in testing conditions.
North Queensland have won a high-scoring NRL trial win over Canberra in testing conditions.

North Queensland have rallied to beat Canberra in an NRL trial game, although it was the form of a Raiders youngster that stole the show in Queanbeyan.

Ethan Strange staked his claim for the vacant Canberra five-eighth role with a starring performance despite his side’s 36-26 loss on Sunday afternoon.

The Raiders led 14-4 in an impressive early attacking blitz, before the Cowboys wore their less-experienced opponents down with four straight tries.

Strange shone early and produced the game’s first points with a moment of pure class and creativity, kicking to himself and gathering the ball to score.

And coach Ricky Stuart would be just as impressed with some brilliant defensive reads to stifle the Cowboys’ left edge, particularly second-rower Heilum Luki.

But Strange might be out of the race to replace South Sydney-bound Jack Wighton, sin-binned in the second half for a lifting tackle on Thomas Mikaele that could see him suspended.

That would leave Kaeo Weekes to take the No.6, although he was unimpressive in the loss.

North Queensland got a hat-trick from winger Kyle Feldt to get the game on their terms, their stars playing the majority of the 80 minutes despite the hot conditions.

Feldt’s tries probably sealed him a wing spot for round one ahead of Semi Valemei, despite dropping a bomb in the first half that allowed Canberra winger Xavier Savage to score.

Kyle Feldt.
Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt breaks the Raiders’ line during their trial win. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Fullback Scott Drinkwater was straight back at his best, with three try assists.

The Cowboys might start the season without bench forward Coen Hess, who left the game in the second half after clashing knees with the Raiders’ Pasami Saulo.

Mikaele might grab that spot from him after two tries and 54m.

Canberra started with Albert Hopoate at fullback and switched to teen starlet Chevy Stewart at halftime, but both appear to be behind Jordan Rapana in the race for the No.1 jersey.

Stewart flashed his potential with a forced dropout and some pacey back-up play through the middle of the park.

Off-season forward pack additions Morgan Smithies and Zac Hosking only had five runs between them in their first outing for the Green Machine, although they showed defensive intensity in making a combined 45 tackles without a miss.

Power centre Matt Timoko impressed in his limited stint, running for 71m and scoring a try that saw him brush aside Cowboys centre Valentine Holmes.