PROUD: Cowboys skipper Gavin Cooper holds up the Auckland Nines trophy.
PROUD: Cowboys skipper Gavin Cooper holds up the Auckland Nines trophy. Hannah Petersgetty IMAGES

Cowboys ride off with Nines title

THE North Queensland Cowboys have taken out the inaugural Auckland Nines title, beating the Brisbane Broncos 16-7 in the final at Eden Park.

It was a remarkable run from the Cowboys, who were the only side to progress from pool play with just one victory. It culminated in a cheque for $370,000.

They steadily found their form as the tournament progressed, beating the Panthers in the quarter-finals and upsetting the Warriors in the final four.

Their 8-0 win over the home side and favourites in the semi-final sent a fair few of the sell-out crowd streaming for the exits, with Eden Park perhaps only two-thirds full for the showpiece decider.

Many of the fans remaining seemed to have adopted the Broncos as their second team and they were again left disappointed in a relatively one-sided final.

The Cowboys were paying $26 to take the tournament heading into the event but they belied those odds as tries from Antonio Winterstein and Curtis Rona staked their side to a 10-0 halftime lead.

Ben Hunt's five-pointer with three minutes left meant the game was up for grabs in the dying moments, but the Cowboys hung on and became the first Nines champion.


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