The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys have come home with a wet sail to blow Parramatta off the park 46-4 with a late flurry in their Round 20 National Rugby League clash at 1300SMILES Stadium tonight.
After taking a modest 10-4 lead at half-time following a lack-lustre opening 40 minutes from both teams, the Cowboys were simply stunning in the second stanza, racing in 36 unanswered points within the space of 34 minutes to posted their 14th win of the season and consolidate their top-two standing on the ladder.
Centre Justin O’Neill – who played more than 20 minutes with a knee injury before being taken from the field in the final 10 minutes – made a key defensive play early in the second half. O’Neill denied a Brad Takairangi try in the corner which, if awarded could have seen the Eels draw level. Instead, a first-half four-pointer to fullback Reece Robinson was to be the visitors’ only points on a night in which 13,797 fans flocked to 1300SMILES Stadium for a fix of Monday night football.
Going into the match searching for a third straight win after road victories against the Dragons and the Sea Eagles, the Cowboys couldn’t have asked for a better start when, in the sixth minute, winger Antonio Winterstein crossed for his ninth try of the season after some crisp Cowboys ball movement involving a wrap-around and unselfish final-pass play from centre Kane Linnett. Johnathan Thurston missed his opening conversion – he would be successful with his next seven attempts – as the home team took an early 4-0 lead, only to stretch it to 10-0 10 minutes later when Jason Taumalolo barged over from a sublime Jake Granville short ball.
Robinson got one back in the 22nd minute and a half-time scoreline seemed a fitting indication of how both sides were playing given completion rates were in the 70 per cent realm.
The second half started positively for NQ, though, when Granville’s back-up Rory Kostjasyn snuck over the line from dummy-half in the 46th minute and a 16-4 lead looked like growing even more.
But the Eels hung tough for nearly the next quarter of an hour until the floodgates finally opened and the Cowboys ran in five converted tries in 21 minutes to blow the game apart. Taumalolo snared his double, while Linnett, Granville, Lachlan Coote and Matthew Wright – on the bell – all posted four-pointers to see their home side post a sixth win at 1300SMILES Stadium this year.
Granville was named man of the match in a stellar performance including his try, two try assists, three line breaks and six tackle busts.
The Cowboys now have a five-day turnaround ahead of hosting the Raiders in the Round 21 ISC Marvel Super Heroes extravaganza, in which NQ will be wearing Thor-themed jerseys to the Raiders’ Hulk design.
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS 46 (Jason Taumalolo 2, Antonio Winterstein, Rory Kostjasyn, Kane Linnett, Jake Granville, Lachlan Coote, Matthew Wright tries; Johnathan Thurston 7 goals) def PARRAMATTA EELS 4 (Reece Robinson try) at 1300SMILES STADIUM. Crowd: 13,797.