Buoyed by a vocal home crowd, the Knights started enthusiastically but were eventually overwhelmed early by the flamboyant Jonathan Thurston and partner in crime Anthony Watts.
The Knights didn’t do too much wrong early in the first half, they simply ran out of possession and had to hang on, as the Cowboys made in roads up the middle section of the field.
But the tide would eventually turn for the home side, the chink in the North Queensland armour coming when custodian Matt Bowen was injured and left the field. The reshuffle saw Ty Williams drop to fullback and the veteran back simply didn’t have the pace to keep shutting out the Knights raids.
As the Knights built momentum and began to attack in the second half, two rapid fire tries in the space of 3 minutes saw them surge back into the contest. The dual blow to the Cowboys took the wind out of their sails and they struggled to go with the Newcastle outfit.
While quiet early on, Knights half Jarrod Mullen came into his own. Scoring a try for himself and having a hand in several others to really stand up for his side. The nuggety half was also busy in defence, thwarting several raids to keep his sides second half run in tact.
Getting good assistance from their outside men Cooper Vuna and Aku Uate, the Knights continued to roll on and when they scored with 10 minutes to go it was all but over.
The loss destroys any chance North Queensland had of making the NRL Finals for 2009. Stuck on 24 points, even 2 more victories should see them miss the cut in whats been a crowded Top 8 on the points table.
The victory for the Knights shoots them to 28 points and one more victory could ensure them a finals birth for the first time in a few years. With new coach Rick Stone only taking the reins a few weeks ago, it would be a cruel, cruel blow to outgoing coach Brian Smith should his former team win the NRL Premiership. The experienced Smith has taken the Knights from the Andrew Johns era and totally rebuilt the outfit from the ground up.