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By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 09/07/20 1:40pm
Matt Ikuvalu made the most of an unexpected opportunity by running in five tries as Sydney Roosters overwhelmed North Queensland Cowboys 42-16 in Thursday’s NRL clash.
The winger was originally named as 18th man in the Roosters squad but was thrust into the starting line-up when Brett Morris pulled up injury in the pre-match warm-up.
It proved to be a fairy-tale for the 26-year-old as he led the way for the Roosters, helping them fight back from six points down to record a thumping win at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
Prior to the match, Ikuvalu had only scored four tries in his previous 15 first-grade appearances and became the first Roosters player since 1955 to score five in a match.
It was the hosts who were in the ascendancy early on though, capitalising on a disjointed start from the reigning champions when Reece Robson darted from dummy-half following a strong run from skipper Jason Taumalolo to open the scoring on 24 minutes.
Kyle Feldt kicked the conversion from almost in front of the posts, but then saw a penalty effort from close range come back off the posts five minutes later which would have given his side an 8-0 lead.
The Roosters responded swiftly to that let-off and were back on level terms when James Tedesco set Ikuvalu up for his first try of the match out wide on the right, which was converted by Kyle Flanagan.
The visitors took the lead in the 36th minute when Siosiua Taukeiaho burst through and sent Sitili Tupouniua racing away for a second converted score which made it 12-6 at half-time.
It was pretty much one-way traffic when play resumed though and Ikuvalu showed superb athleticism to dive over and plant the ball down in the corner for an unconverted score two minutes after the restart.
He completed his hat-trick by managing to avoid being forced into touch and finish off another flowing attack from Trent Robinson’s team three minutes later, followed by stand-off Luke Keary grabbing two converted tries in quick succession.
Ikuvalu then equalled his career tally prior to the match on the hour mark, taking a pass from Flanagan to finish, and made it five for the night four minutes later when he leapt to score from a cross-field kick by Keary.
Coen Hess and Robson managed late consolation tries for the Cowboys as the hosts finished with a flourish, but this game was all about the Roosters and Ikuvalu in particular.