North Queensland Toyota Cowboys winger Matthew Wright has scored a hat-trick in his side's 30-10 win over Penrith at Pepper Stadium tonight.
The visitors ran in five tries to the Panthers' two, making their mark on the game with a 92% completion rate.
From kick off there was a sorting-out period in the first few minutes, but when James Tamou was penalised for laying in the tackle it put the Panthers on the attack.
It didn’t take long for the home side to breach the Cowboys defence with James Segeyaro squeezing over from dummy-half to open the scoring.
After a solid defence set, the Cowboys got the ball on the halfway and from there they found some space with Gavin Cooper making a bursting run up the middle, but he couldn’t connect with Lachlan Coote on the inside.
But on the fourth tackle the ball went wide – Tautau Moga with a flick out the back found Matthew Wright unmarked as he went over to score in the corner.
Johnathan Thurston added the extras to level the game at 6-all 14 minutes in.
Cooper again made a big play on the 30-metre line, intercepting a Panthers ball and putting the North Queenslanders in prime attacking position.
From that set of six Thurston grubbered into the goal with the slippery conditions causing Matt Moylan to lose control, and Coote was on hand to put downward pressure on the ball after it went upstairs to the video ref, the fullback scoring against his old side.
Thurston added the two as the Cowboys got out to a 12-6 lead in the 22nd minute.
It wasn’t just attack that the Cowboys were dominating in, with their goal-line defence causing headaches for the home side.
With six minutes before half time, the on-field referee awarded Matt Moylan a try but the exceptional defence of Kane Linnett and Antonio Winterstein saw the decision overruled by the video ref.
It was all going the visitors' way when a charge-down saw the Cowboys co-captain dodge the Penrith defence to run 40 metres before being tackled.
From the next play they spun the ball wide, with Moga palming his opponent to hand Wright any easy passage to the line for his second.
They would take a 16-6 lead into the break.
There was no respite for the Panthers at the start of the second with Matthew Scott corralling Matt Moylan in goal to get a repeat set for the Cowboys.
It would pay off as Ethan Lowe took advantage of a Thurston inside ball to crash over.
Dean Whare would cut back the advantage to 10 at the 51st minute mark.
The gap looked to close even further when back-to-back penalties had the Panthers on the prowl near the line and the video ref was again called into play after Josh Mansour looked to have crossed, diving over from dummy-half.
For the second time, the Cowboys defence was up to the task.
While Thurston added an extra two with a penalty, they weren’t finished with crossing the stripe as Wright scored his third of the night.
James Tamou and Matt Scott were huge up the middle running for 184 and 178 metres respectively, while Cooper notched up 46 tackles.
Cowboys 30: Matthew Wright 3, Lachlan Coote, Ethan Lowe tries; Johnathan Thurston 4/5 conversions
Panthers 10: James Segeyaro, Dean Whare tries; Matt Moylan 1/2 conversions