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Thurston hails a new hero in Jake Clifford

On Johnathan Thurston's farewell night to his Townsville fans the retiring half saw a new Cowboy star on the rise in five-eighth Jake Clifford.

The Cowboys demolished the Eels 44-6 and Thurston knows he is leaving the club in some cpabale young hands.

While Thurston set up two tries and was sublime with the boot, slotting eight goals from eight attempts, he seemed more than happy to palm the ball off to Jake Clifford to do some of the organisational work.

The 20-year-old half came into his own on a huge stage.

In front of 25,000 home fans in a week with a massive build-up Clifford laid on three try assists, with kicking, passing and running all at the right moments.

"We've been into him the last few weeks to step up and play his part, and he did that tonight," Thurston said. 

Match Highlights: Cowboys v Eels - Round 24, 2018

"The pleasing part about that is that is he's getting a lot of confidence to call the ball.

"With the players we've got coming through and the players we've got on the sideline, there's going to be a lot of success in the future."

While the Cowboys backs like Ben Hampton, Kyle Feldt and Gideon Gela-Mosby were all excellent for their side on Friday night, they worked off the strong platform laid by the forwards.

Jordan McLean, Jason Taumalolo and Matt Scott were seemingly unstoppable against the Eels, and coach Paul Green was pleased they dominated the way they did. 

Cowboys co-captains Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston.
Cowboys co-captains Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Scott became the third Cowboy but the first forward at the club to reach the 250 NRL-game milestone. The other two are Thurston and Matt Bowen.

Thurston went out of his way to pay tribute to Scott on Friday night, and Green did as well as he praised his big men up front in his post-match comments. 

"We laid a good platform to start with, it's probably one of the best starts we've had all year," Green said.

"They took advantage of the work the forwards did and we controlled the ball well early and we built our game well.

"Our forwards laid that platform, so when we got our opportunities we took advantage of that, gave guys with the speed out wide to take advantage of the opportunities we had."

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.