It's four wins on the trot for the improving North Queensland Toyota Cowboys under-20s team after a slow-starting but comfortable 38-18 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons at 1300SMILES Stadium today.
Trailing early after some ill-discipline and porous defence, the young Cowboys gradually worked their way back into the contest thanks to strong forward running and a brace of tries to powerful captain Coen Hess.
Hess twice was too much to handle close to the break in the opening half, his double cancelling out the Dragons' two opening-half tries as the home side took a narrow 10-8 lead into the break.
The Cowboys came out with renewed intent in the second 40 and piled on six tries in the period to wrest control of the match away from the Dragons, who have just the one win from their opening five matches.
Days after celebrating his 18th birthday, livewire fullback Kalyn Ponga had a strong game, constantly proving a headache for staggered defensive lines while showcasing his searing speed with a smart 57th-minute try off a Cooper Bambling inside ball.
Aaron Payne’s young charges have not lost since round 1 against the Sharks and would have enjoyed a comfortable result tonight following last weekend’s one-point thriller over the Broncos.
NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS 38 (Coen Hess 2, Marcus Jensen, Brandon Smith, Kalyn Ponga, Jesse Pomare-Anderson, Ross Bella, Enari Tuala tries; Cody Grills, Cooper Bambling, Ponga goals) def ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 18 (Patrick Herbert, Jack Payne, Jacob Host, Paora Kemp tries; Kemp 2 goals) at 1300SMILES Stadium.