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The Dolphins vs North Queensland Cowboys, live scores, where to watch, Dolphins debut, Wayne Bennett, highlights, match winning try

The Dolphins put in an impressive performance in their competitive NFL debut, finishing level with the Cowboys at 22-22 in Cairns.

Dolphins playmaker Anthony Milford lined up his team’s first try after fullback Isaiya Katoa dropped a kickoff in shocking fashion.

“Oh my God, can we turn the tape back and go again,” said Fox League’s Andrew Foss.

Match position: Dolphins vs North Queensland Cowboys live score, teams

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Milford’s kick was stopped by young winger Jack Bostock, who did not concede scoring into the right corner.

Moments later, Laitia Moceidreke scored the Cowboys’ first kick of the night off behind Ben Hampton’s clever kick for Tom Chester to get back into action.

North Queensland winger Robert Derby then scored an impressive 95-metre interception try, burning the Dolphins cover defense.

Derby quickly crossed his path for the second time and earned praise from Fox League’s Michael Ennis.

“This is nice from Robert Derby, he’s a great athlete and he’s proven himself to be the best,” said Innes.

But the Dolphins answered just before halftime, as Isaiya Katoa orchestrated a nice four-pointer to Lachlan Hubner off an inside ball.

After halftime, winger Brenton Bayra scored the Dolphins’ third goal in superb fashion, flying high to catch the ball before stopping it just in time.

Then with minutes remaining on the clock, former Vanthers player Mason Teague crossed after Katwa’s inside ball ignited what could have been the game winning touchdown.

However, in the closing minutes of the game, the Cowboys had two sets on the Dolphins line and Moceidreke scored his second before Zac Laybutt missed the conversion that ended the game on level scores.

“Heartbreaking stuff for the dolphins, they were massive,” Ennis said.

Read below for all the big talking points from the entire Queensland match!

Derby’s elite show

North Queensland winger Robert Derby seized his chance with both hands against the Dolphins, scoring a brilliant double in the first half.

The 20-year-old Papua New Guinea international jumped high to intercept Isaiya Katoa’s pass in the first half, making it 95 metres.

“He did a great job, his scattering and great awareness here to keep accelerating away from Euan Aitken because he was coming up,” said Michael Ennis of the Fox League.

Fox League’s Andrew Foss also revealed that Derby is a native of Cairns and scored a try at the stadium where he grew up watching rugby league.

“It’s a nice moment because he’s a little kid in Cairns, he would have come on this ground as a kid and here he is in a Cowboys jersey, well done Robert Derby,”

Later in the first half, Derby also beat three players in cover defense to score an impressive four-pointer past forward Tom Chester and his back.

“This is nice from Robert Derby, he’s a great athlete and he’s proven himself to be the best,” said Innes.

Derby finished the encounter with 258m and two tries, placing himself in the frame as an alternate wing behind both Murray Taulagi and Kyle Feldt.

Wayne’s bewildering absence

Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett stayed home for his team’s NFL debut, surprising many observers.

Bennett has fielded a franchise to the NRL once before in 1988 but this time it wasn’t there when they made their first grade debut.

The head coach handed the reigns over to assistant Christian Wolf for their showdown against the Cowboys and the newcomers can hold their heads high after a solid performance.

However, rugby league fans were left scratching their heads when it was revealed Bennett’s absence at Barlow Park in Cairns on Sunday night.

“Supercoach Wayne Bennett didn’t show up for the Dolphins’ historic first game against the Cowboys,” tweeted Travis Maine of the Courier Mail.

“Absolutely amazing.”

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Katwa boomerang

It would have been easy for Isaiya Katoa to go down in his NRL debut after a nightmare start.

The 18-year-old halfback dropped a kickoff and put his team in harm’s way with the Cowboys attacking their line within the first 30 seconds of the club’s debut.

Isaiya Katoa drops the ball directly from the kick-off.Source: FOX SPORTS

Wayne Bennett’s team managed to defend their line before Katua showed he was the talent of the future with a clever 40/20.

That kick gave his sideline position to score the club’s first try through Anthony Milford kicking Jack Bostock down the right wing.

Katwa also orchestrated the Dolphins’ second try, fetching space in the middle of the park and hitting Lachlan Hubner with a short ball for a crash.

Katoa’s cool head and playmaking abilities impressed Fox League analysts and Michael Ennis called the former Panthers a “special” before turning him over again.

“Some young stars, Katwa looks special, he’ll be good,” Ennis said.

“Record it for three years, Katwa, the Dolphins who of course have Sean O’Sullivan on their books,” Fosse said.

As the scores sat 18-16 to the Cowboys, a clever inside ball sparked a potential Mason Teague try before North Queensland eventually equalized with seconds on the clock.

“Remember the name, Isaya Katwa,” Ennis said.

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