North Queensland produced a dominant performance to register its first win of the NRL season with a 42-14 victory over Wests Tigers at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday night.
The players struggled in oppressive Townsville humidity but the mistakes and less-than-formidable defence of both sides contributed to an entertaining spectacle.
Early in the second half the Tigers trailed 24-8 – not a true reflection of the game but testament to the number of chances they had squandered through a lack of composure in front of the Cowboys’ line.
Conversely, North Queensland capitalised on most of its chances as Matt Bowen continued his impressive return from knee surgery and underlined his importance to the Cowboys attack.
“The knee has been good,” Bowen told Fox Sports after full-time. “It has pulled up a little sore, but that is to be expected.
“I’m happy we got the win and I think we’re getting close to our 2005 form, so I hope we keep it going.”
The result was sealed in the 60th minute when Aaron Payne scored following a Cowboys attacking set that moved 90 metres after withstanding a sustained period of Tigers pressure deep inside their own half.
Late tries to Ty Williams and John Williams added insult to injury for Tigers coach Tim Sheens, who was celebrating his 150th game in charge of the 2005 premiers.
Cowboys and Australian half-back Johnathan Thurston also continued his perfect goalkicking record for 2009, converting each of North Queensland’s seven tries.
Second rower Carl Webb, who made a number of crucial mistakes in the Cowboys’ one-point loss to Brisbane last week, redeemed himself with a strong performance, including a try in the 17th minute.
“After the loss last week it was good to come home for the win,” he said.
“We made a few too many errors again tonight, but we’ve just got to work on it.”
Tigers lock Todd Payten says his side had only themselves to blame for their poor ball control.
“It’s no secret that this first month of footy is all about completions and we coughed it over too many times and it burned us,” he said.
“We have no excuses. It was poor. We’ll pull our fingers out or it’s the same result next week.”
Cowboys: 42 (A Kaufusi, C Webb, M Bowen, T Burns, A Payne, T Williams, J Williams tries; J Thurston 7 conversions)
Tigers: 14 (T Tuiaki, J Morris, T Moltzen tries; B Marshall conversion)