Bulldogs will be hurting: Thurston

North Queensland thrashed Canterbury 36-0 in Townsville a month ago, but Johnathan Thurston expects that result to only make the Bulldogs a tougher opponent.

The fifth-placed Cowboys face the fourth-placed Bulldogs at Belmore on Thursday in a clash that will go a long way in determining who secures the final spot in the NRL’s top four.

Thurston and his men head south knowing they destroyed the Dogs at home in July, but the Queensland and Australia representative says their opponents will definitely use that result as motivation.

“That hurt them. No doubt they’ll come out and be a lot more committed and fired up,” the Cowboys co-captain said.

“They’re playing at Belmore. Personally I know what it’s like when you’re playing there. You grow an extra leg.

“It’s a hostile environment. A good challenge for us this time of year obviously to see where we’re at, both physically and mentally.”

Thurston hasn’t played a first-grade game at Belmore, but played there for the Bulldogs’ Jersey Flegg team during his time at Canterbury as a youngster.

He expects a venomous return to his old stomping ground, but surprisingly, Canterbury have won only one of the three matches they’ve played at their spiritual home since it resumed as a first-grade venue in 2015.

“Obviously the crowd, they don’t hold back,” Thurston said.

“They’re very vocal and love their team.

“It’s just one of those old suburban grounds. It’s not like the new stadiums you’re normally at.”

The Cowboys, who will welcome representative prop Matt Scott back into their line-up for the crucial clash, head to Sydney on Tuesday.

Thurston says travelling a day earlier for the away fixture, as they would do for finals games, highlights the importance of the round 24 clash.

“It’s just an early indication that no doubt Thursday night will be a semi-final type footy,” Thurston said.

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