A mixture of ill-discipline and errors seemed to cost the Bulldogs as they were held scoreless in the second half.
Coach Des Hasler said the errors didnt help their cause.
You cant hand over possession that much and expect to get away with it, Hasler said. Especially against a side like the Cowboys.
Our execution was off and we have plenty of areas we can work on heading into next week.
Captain Michael Ennis echoed his Coachs comments.
We had a grip on the ruck in the early stages but we lost control their for a bit and just couldnt get it back.
The Cowboys had the ideal start to their 2013 season with a try coming at the completion of their first set of six. It was a Jonathan Thurston cross-field bomb towards winger Steve Turner that created the chance. As soon as Turner touched the ball he was hit by Brent Tate and the ball spilled loose only for his opposite to collect possession and go over to score. Referee Jason Robinson sent it up to the video referee for a look and was awarded. Thurston couldnt convert and the score was 4-nil after just two minutes of play.
The Bulldogs answered straight back with their opening try of the season coming just three minutes later. A move to the right saw new recruit Tony Williams pass the ball on to Drury Low and as he went to hand it on it was touched by Antonio Winterstein. From there Josh Reynolds picked the ball up and found his way to the try-line. Centre Krisnan Inu converted from just to the right of the uprights and the blue and whites hit the front 6-4.
Three minutes later the lead was extended after a Steve Turner try. Turner turned from villain to hero after his earlier mistake in the opening minutes. It was a great turn of pace shown by centre Josh Morris who got on the outside of Ray Thompson and although Tate got a touch on the ball, Turner scooped it up and strolled over untouched. Inu couldnt convert with the score 10-4 after 10 minutes.
A mistake from the Cowboys just 20m out from their own line gave the Bulldogs possession and on the first tackle were awarded a penalty for having their hands all over the ball. Captain Michael Ennis handed the ball to Inu and the Kiwi international smartly converted the penalty to get the lead out to a converted try, 12-6 after 15 minutes.
Two tries in eight minutes put the visitors back into the lead. The first coming in the 19th minute through Gavin Cooper and the second in the 27th to winger Antonio Winterstein. Thurston had a hand in both with the first seeing him go for the very familiar show and go before laying it off to Cooper and the second was a well weighted grubber with Winterstein scoring in the SE corner. Thurston converted both to make the score 16-12.
In the 37th minute the Cowboys earned three penalties in a row for various infringements and with the Bulldogs holding solid in defence, Thurston elected to take the shot at goal and made no mistake. That was the final piece of action for the first half and the Cowboys went to the sheds with an 18-12 lead.
The second half didnt go according to plan for the Bulldogs as a combination of penalties and poor ball handling cost the blue and whites as the minutes went by.
The opening points of the second half went to the Cowboys with Thurston taking a penalty shot at goal to extend the lead out to beyond a converted try.
It was against Reynolds who was ruled to have had his hands in the ruck. Thurston converted from 20m out with the score now 20-12.
There was just the one try scored in the second half and it was a familiar set of hands that the ball went through to earn it. It came in the 59th minute and went through Thurston and Bowen before finding its way into the hands of Graham on the right hand wing to go over in the corner. Thurston couldnt convert and the score was now 24-12.
The final 20 minutes were played with spirit but errors coming out of the Bulldogs end didnt help their cause and the blue and whites finished the match behind on the scoreboard 24-12.
COWBOYS 24 (Graham 2, Cooper, Winterstein Tries; Thurston 4 Goals) def. BULLDOGS 12 (Reynolds, Turner Tries; Inu 2 Goals)
At: Bluetongue Stadium