A hamstring injury to Johnathan Thurston has soured another emphatic home victory for North Queensland in Thursday night’s 36-0 NRL thrashing of Canterbury in Townsville.
Thurston starred as the Cowboys opened up a 20-0 lead over the Bulldogs after 45 minutes before the superstar playmaker was forced to leave the field. He didn’t return.
However, Thurston was confident the injury wouldn’t leave him sidelined for long.
“It’s not too bad – it is just more of a precaution,” he told the Nine Network.
“I felt a twinge when I put in a grubber kick and, when I went to run, I couldn’t accelerate.
“I should be right (for next week). It is just cotton wool.”
North Queensland didn’t let up after Thurston’s injury, piling on three more tries in his absence to embarrass the Bulldogs at 1300 Smiles Stadium.
Antonio Winterstein scored three tries for the home side, while Julian O’Neill scored two, with Jason Taumalolo laying a tremendous platform up front.
The loss throws doubt on the Bulldogs’ premiership claims, after they had come into the match on the back of four straight losses. The visitors were outclassed across the park in a match they will want to quickly forget.
The win consolidates premiers North Queensland’s spot in the top four, while Canterbury could slip below that if results go against them during the remainder of round 20.
The Cowboys, who are 9-0 at home for the year, opened with two tries in the first eight minutes through Winterstein to set up an early 12-0 lead and never looked back.
Javid Bowen’s four-pointer in the 24th minute gave North Queensland a 16-0 halftime lead and, when Justin O’Neill scored in the 45th minute, the match was all but over.
Ethan Lowe, O’Neill and Winterstein only added to the Bulldogs’ woes, all crossing for tries as Thurston sat sidelined with ice strapped to his leg.
Canterbury completed at just 63 per cent, making a number of uncharacteristic errors in the North Queensland humidity.
“It just wasn’t there for us tonight,” Bulldogs playmaker Josh Reynolds said.