A North Queensland Cowboys legend, Johnathan Thurston has put the team on the map and given them renewed hope that every year can be a good year.
Although he played a quieter hand in what was his 300th NRL game (his 271st for the Cowboys), his team-mates did enough around him to get him a win in his milestone match.
In what was a rather scrappy affair from both sides, in the end, the score finished 20-14 in favour of the Cowboys.
The Cowboys started with the early momentum as they firstly kept pressure on to force repeat sets before they came close on two occasions, only for Jason Taumalolo and Te Maire Martin to be held up.
The first points of the game would come soon after when a lovely weighted pass from Thurston found a bullocking Justin O’Neill who would not be denied a try.
Things then went from bad to worse for the Sharks; the kick-off went dead and off the ensuing set, is was a similar play as the first, only Jake Granville was the passer and Coen Hess the scorer.
In true Sharks fashion, however, their grit shone through and they fought their way back to score courtesy of Josh Dugan who pounced on a Chad Townsend grubber.
The Sharks joy was short-lived, though; the Cowboys scored again as key winger Kyle Feldt did it himself, dodging two defenders before powering over to score.
With the score at 14-8 at the break, it was anyone’s game but it was again the Cowboys who would start the stronger despite scoring no points.
The Sharks did score the first points of the second half as a Ricky Leutele intercept led to a James Segeyaro try.
It was short-lived as veteran combination Thurston and back-rower Gavin Cooper combined for the forward to get over the line and score and that was all she wrote.
Despite the scrappy affair, Thurston was pleased with his side’s ability to get the win but knows they do have to improve.
”We have a lot to work on, but it was good to see some mental toughness from the team to stay in there and defend on the back of our errors pretty well, but still a lot to work on,” Thurston said.
Those sentiments were echoed by Cowboys coach Paul Green.
”There was a lot to like about our performance … the things we didn’t get right are not too difficult to fix up, it’s probably a little bit of game awareness there,” Green said.
”The hard part was we were creating some opportunities and we were just probably getting a little too excited at the chances we were seeing and turning the footy over.”
North Queensland Cowboys 20 (Cooper, Hess, Feldt; G: Thurston 2/5) def. Sharks 14 (Dugan, Segeyaro; G: Townsend 3/3).
Player of the Game:
3. Jake Granville
2. Josh Dugan
- Coen Hess