A rampant Toyota Cowboys smashed their all-time NRL records for highest score and biggest winning margin by belting Wests Tigers 64-6 in their annual Members Match at 1300SMILES Stadium tonight.
On a memorable night, the Cowboys ran in 12 tries to surpass the old record set in 2003 when North Queensland beat South Sydney 60-8 at home.
It was the Cowboys’ eighth-straight win at home, their fourth consecutive victory overall and lifted them to a season-high fourth on the ladder.
The points blitz included a first career hat-trick for Matthew Wright inside the first 20 minutes.
NQ led 32-0 at half time and scored six tries in each half to virtually end the Tigers’ top-eight hopes.
The Cowboys were 1-17 with John Asiata as 18th man. It was a different story for the Tigers who had seven changes. Chris Lawrence returned from injury at centre in place of the suspended Bodene Thompson. Kurtis Rowe replaced Pat Richards (hamstring) on the wing. Curtis Sironen moved to the halves in place of Luke Brooks (shoulder). Keith Galloway was also out injured with Ava Seumanufagai starting at prop and SauasoSue starting at lock, with Adam Blair shifting to second row. Jack Buchanan and Cory Paterson came on to the bench.
The Cowboys made a brilliant start – with some help from the Tigers.
They couldn’t handle the opening kick off, letting it bounce over the deadball line, and two dropouts and two minutes later, it was Matthew Wright who poached the opening points, finishing off a raid to the right for his seventh try of the year.
Without having to make a tackle, the Cowboys were 4-0 up.
Before 12 minutes had ticked by, Wright had a double.
Tautau Moga mesmerised the Tigers defence out wide and fed his winger for a much simpler put down.
The hat-trick arrived three minutes later – Wright climbed above his opposite Kurtis Rowe and took a JT crosskick before grounding the ball successfully on the try line in the eyes of the on and off-field officials.
Tariq Sims broke Wright’s streak by backing up Michael Morgan for the Cowboys’ fourth try as the home team continued to score at more than a point a minute.
JT’s conversion from near the posts that brought the scoreline to 20-0 was his 600th at club level.
After playing a big role in Sims’s try, Rob Lui created the next one for Jason Taumalolo, who stormed into a hole and then stepped past a hapless Tigers fullback Mitchell Moses.
Only 29 minutes had elapsed and the game was virtually decided with NQ 26-0 ahead.
The Cowboys’ leading try-scorer Antonio Winterstein joined the blitz with his team’s sixth, taking a diving pass from Kane Linnett on his inside.
JT converted from the sideline to make it even worse for the bedraggled visitors.
The Tigers were unable to mount any real pressure until the 34th minute but in a sign of how their night was going, they threw the ball over the sideline to end the threat.
There was more of the same at the start of the second 40 with Antonio Winterstein taking a bullet pass from Morgan before stepping back on the inside to score his second, with less than two minutes gone since the restart.
Morgan, the Cowboys 2014 members’ player, was in business for a try of his own in the Members Match with 30 to go, thanks to a JT pass to the inside that sent him on an untouched run to the line.
The co-captain’s conversion took the margin to 44.
After copping an hour of carnage, the Tigers scored through prop Aaron Woods who stretched out an arm to score under the crossbar, but the respite didn’t last long.
They knocked on from the kick off and Tautau Moga made it across for the Cowboys’ ninth in the next set.
The half-century was brought up by Kane Linnett with 18 to go and the 60 was on the scoreboard thanks to Jason Taumalolo’s second following a Tigers error close to their line.
Among the statistics that showed the huge difference between the two teams were the overall metres gained (1560m to 648m), linebreaks (15 to one) and missed tackles (27 to six).
Matt Scott and Taumalolo both ran for close to 200 metres with Tariq Sims’s 22 tackles the most work any Cowboy had to do in defence.
Cowboys: 1 Michael Morgan, 2 Tautau Moga, 3 Matthew Wright, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Robert Lui, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matt Scott (c), 9 Rory Kostjasyn, 10 Ashton Sims, 11 Tariq Sims, 12 Jason Taumalolo, 13 Glenn Hall. Interchange: 14 Ray Thompson, 15 Scott Bolton, 16 Gavin Cooper, 17 Sam Hoare.
Tigers: 1 Mitchell Moses, 2 Keith Lulia, 3 Tim Simona, 19 Chris Lawrence, 25 Kurtis Rowe, 11 Curtis Sironen, 6 Blake Austin, 8 Aaron Woods, 9 Robbie Farah (c), 14. Ava Seumanufagai, 12 Dene Halatau, 13 Adam Blair, 16 Sauaso Sue. Interchange: 15 Martin Taupau, 17 James Gavet, 20 Jack Buchanan, 18. Cory Paterson.
Cowboys 64 – Matthew Wright 3, Antonio Winterstein 2, Jason Taumalolo 2, Tariq Sims, Tautau Moga 2, Michael Morgan, Kane Linnett tries; Johnathan Thurston 8 goals
Tigers 6 – Aaron Woods try; Cory Paterson goal