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Aaron Payne’s under-20s North Queensland Toyota Cowboys have again sent a strong signal to the rest of the National Youth Competition with a clinical 40-16 dismantling of two-time champions and the second-placed Penrith Panthers at Pepper Stadium tonight.

Leading 18-10 at the break after the hosts scored two late-half tries, the Cowboys were rampant in the second, piling on four more tries in the eight-tries-to-three wins.

The Cowboys’ back five were outstanding, with livewire fullback Kalyn Ponga posting a hat-trick, including two long-range efforts on kick returns.

The win puts the Cowboys into fourth on the NYC ladder with 13 wins for 30 competition points.

Their next opponent is the competition-leading Sharks in Townsville next Saturday.

NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS NYC 40 (Kalyn Ponga 3, Michael Carroll, Kurt Wiltshire, Sam Murphy, Enari Tuala, Ryan Lloyd tries; Jake Clifford 4 goals) def PENRITH PANTHERS NYC 16 (Dean Blore, Daniel Brown, Reed Izzard tries; Dean Blore 2 goals) at Pepper Stadium.