The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys under-20s have stormed back into form with a 44-12 trouncing of the Canterbury Bulldogs in Round 20 National Youth Competition action on Saturday.
Coming off a bye and two straight losses prior, the young Cowboys needed a vast improvement in defence to bolster their title aspirations, and were up against a desperate side still with a slim chance of making the finals.
But led by talismanic fullback/half Kalyn Ponga and a committed pack of forwards, the young Cowboys answered their recent form slump in stunning fashion with an eight-tries-to-two rout.
Ponga posted a second-half hat-trick and twice set up his winger Gideon Gela-Mosby in the first half with a pair of sublime passes as the NQ lads turned a 20-6 half-time advantage into a convincing win.
Coach Aaron Payne was without consistent five-eighth Ty Carucci for half the game as he succumbed to injury, forcing Ponga into the halves and Gela-Mosby to the fullback role.
It mattered little though as a united pack of forwards led by 17-year-old tearaway Emry Pere time and again bent back the Bulldogs’ line, allowing Payne’s speedy and skilful backline to wreak havoc.
Standing in for injured halfback Cooper Bambling, Jacob Bourke was a steadying influence in the No.7 jersey and kicked well in landing six from eight conversions.
The win – at least for several hours – propels the Cowboys to second place on the NYC ladder with 12 wins, five losses and a draw from 18 matches.
NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS NYC 44 (Kalyn Ponga 3, Gideon Gela-Mosby 2, Taha Tutavake, Nick Lui Toso, Marcus Jensen tries; Jacob Bourke 6 goals) def CANTERBURY BULLDOGS NYC 12 (D’Rhys Miller, Mario El Boustani tries; Adam Keighran 2 goals).
NYC Round 21: Cowboys v Storm, 5.15pm, Saturday 30 July, 1300SMILES Stadium