North Queensland have shown they won’t be derailed by the difficult State of Origin period, with a comprehensive 46-16 NRL defeat of cellar dwellers Newcastle.
With four players including star halfback Johnathan Thurston backing up, just three days after Origin I, the Cowboys ran in eight tries to three on Saturday at 1300 Smiles Stadium to jump Brisbane into third spot.
While Thurston was at his usual brilliant best, Matt Scott was equally impressive, leading the Cowboys’ engine room and running for 140 metres in the first half alone.
After the Cowboys grabbed first points through a well-executed set piece finished off by Antonio Winterstein, the Knights evened it through a long-rage effort via Cory Denniss.
Michael Morgan was the only one of Paul Green’s Origin contingent not to back up, however his replacement Ray Thompson fired at five-eighth, scoring a first-half double as the home side galloped to a 24-6 halftime lead.
For Newcastle, they remain anchored to the bottom of the table after seven defeats on the trot and struggling for positives in the midst of a difficult rebuilding season.
The Knights were forced to do it tough when they were reduced to just two men on the bench after Nathan Ross (calf) and Danny Levi (concussion) both failed to finish the game.
When John Asiata popped a magic ball for Jake Granville to score under the posts five minutes after halftime, the game was as good as over at 30-6 and the floodgates opened.
While the win against the lowly Knights was expected, it was nonetheless a vital two points during the tough Origin period for Green’s side.
The Cowboys also maintained their home ground’s fortress reputation after recording their ninth straight win in Queensland’s far north and 16th of their past 18.
Lock Jason Taumalolo was also among the Cowboys’ best, running for 176 metres and busting four tackles.