North Queensland’s impressive start to the 2017 NRL season continued in Townsville on Friday as a composed Cowboys accounted for South Sydney 20-6.
The battle between the 2014 and 2015 premiers never reached any great heights but North Queensland were by far the better side and improved to 4-1 on the season, with a solid performance against a sluggish Rabbitohs.
Damien Cook made a game-high 53 tackles after starting at hooker in place of NSW State of Origin No.9 Robbie Farah, who played just eight minutes after being relegated to the bench.
Souths went toe-to-toe with the Cowboys in the early exchanges but never seriously threatened after trailing 14-0 at the half way mark.
Returning fullback Lachlan Coote wasted no time in making his mark on the game as he nailed a 40-20 with his first kick. Although North Queensland were unable to capitalise there was no shortage of action early as both sides attacked at a breakneck pace.
The Rabbitohs peppered the Cowboys goal line but the hosts went on to open the scoring with a Johnathan Thurston penalty goal after 20 minutes.
Souths second-rower John Sutton was within inches of the game’s opening try minutes later before being denied by some desperate Michael Morgan defence and the Cowboys five-eighth made it a double blow when he crashed over for a four-pointer from short range.
The pain continued for Souths when rookie winger Gideon Gela-Mosby finished off a slick backline movement from the home side, with Thurston’s conversion sending the Cowboys in to the break 14-0 up.
A spell from the sapping Townsville heat seemed to do the Bunnies the world of good and they hit back soon after half time when centre Robert Jennings caught the Cowboys left edge napping for a classy try.
Unfortunately for Souths fans the visitors’ revival proved to be short-lived with utility John Asiata hitting Shaun Fensom with a great short ball to allow the former Canberra Raider to power over for his first try in Cowboys colours.