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Cowboys forward Josh McGuire.

A rampant Jason Taumalolo chalked up incredible stats but the cameo role of John Asiata and a 40-minute burst by Josh McGuire gave Cowboys coach Paul Green just as much satisfaction after the 24-12 win over the Dragons.

After trailing 6-0 early and fighting back to lead 8-6 at the break the Cowboys went right on with the job as Taumalolo carved out 21 hit-ups for 286 metres in just 64 minutes and Asiata showcased his ball-playing skills when he laid on a try for Michael Morgan.

“I think when we got our game on tonight, that in particular was a bit of a feature for us. I thought when John Asiata came on he made a real difference and straightened us up,” Green said.

Match Highlights: Cowboys v Dragons

“Jason was very good. He was a handful as always but I thought we kept pressure on through that middle with all of our forwards, they were all pretty good."

Former Bronco Josh McGuire started slowly after earning a late call-up to the starting side but quickly found his feet.

“Josh knocked out 40 minutes straight, he'll be a great addition to that pack," Green said.

“The decision to start him was more based around Gavin Cooper. He's just had a little bit of a disrupted pre-season just in terms of how much running he actually got to do.

Nene Macdonald scores against his old club.
Nene Macdonald scores against his old club. ©NRL Photos

“Normally he’s an 80-minute player and he's probably a bit of a risk, particularly at the back end."

Michael Morgan was composed in his first game as skipper and laid on a try for Justin O'Neill late in the game with a pinpoint grubber.

“I thought he got better as the game went on," Green said.

"His control with his kicking game in particular got better, when he kicked better, we were in better control."

With the Cowboys trailing 6-4 just before the break, former Dragon Nene Macdonald opened his account for his new club with a powerful surge into the right corner.

“That try in the context of the game was huge, we'd been a little bit clunky but to get a try like that was good for us," Green said.

Taumalolo being Taumalolo

Macdonald is sure to see plenty of quality ball on the end of the Cowboys backline and he always takes a power of stopping close to the tryline.

The first-up win will give the Cowboys plenty of confidence heading into their round two showdown with arch-rivals Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

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.