It’s a hard act to follow but North Queensland’s Jason Taumalolo has backed Matt Scott to repeat his heroics and lead the Cowboys into their first grand final in 10 years.
League hard man Gorden Tallis watched in awe as co-captain Scott laid the platform for North Queensland’s stunning 39-0 semi-final win over Cronulla in Townsville on Saturday night, amassing a stunning 136m in the first half alone.
In their 20th anniversary year, North Queensland booked a grand final qualifier against the Storm in Melbourne on Saturday night.
The Cowboys played their sole grand final in 2005.
Scott’s blistering opening 20 minute burst laid the platform for the Cowboys pack, with hulking lock Taumalolo (186m), prop James Tamou (195m) and backrower Gavin Cooper (174m) running amok as a result.
Taumalolo said North Queensland entered the game determined to prove they were a pack to be reckoned with after being outslugged by Brisbane in last week’s 16-12 finals loss.
They didn’t have to wait long for Scott to stake their claim.
“We wanted to prove a point that we are a pack to be reckoned with,” Taumalolo said.
“What Matty did in the first 10 minutes was inspirational – he is our leader.
“It’s been a while since we have seen someone dominate like that.
“We will be looking to do the same next week.
“We know what Melbourne are capable of but if we keep them in the grind and don’t flinch we will be good.”
Townsville-born Tallis – a 16-Test enforcer dubbed `the Raging Bull’ – admitted he had not seen anything like Scott’s barnstorming start on his way to amassing 182m for the game, with one line break and four tackle busts.
“Have I seen a better first 15 minutes (from a prop)? No and if there is I have forgotten about it,” he told Cowboys TV.
“I thought they were disappointing last week to be honest.
“He stood up and they needed him to.
“I played behind Shane Webcke and Glenn Lazarus (at Brisbane) and when they were on they gave me so much confidence – everyone lifted.
“If he (Scott) plays like that in the next two weeks it would be fair to say the Cowboys will be in the fight but it’s about replicating that performance.”
Surprisingly Scott admitted he was feeling the pressure ahead of their home final at league nuts Townsville.
“Personally I was a lot more nervous than normal,” Scott revealed.
“But as soon as the whistle blew they went away, and when you start like that you get into what you do well.”
Cowboys coach Paul Green couldn’t hide his pride after his side maintained their unbeaten (6-0) home finals record.
“He showed what he’s capable of and what we love seeing when he’s in the groove,” Green said of Scott.