Jason Taumalolo. The North Queensland Cowboys lock sets the benchmark for NRL forwards and he proved it, with a monumental effort in his side’s win against the Canterbury Bulldogs.
Taumalolo finished the game with 345 metres, breaking the record for the most metres in a game of 323, previously held by Steve Price.
With the game the first to be played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus, the 24-16 win gives the Cowboys some confidence.
It would be the Bulldogs who started strongest and they were quickly rewarded with the opening try.
Some quick hands from Joe Stimson saw Nick Meaney make a break, before finding Lachlan Lewis on the inside to score.
With the conversion successful, the Bulldogs went up 6-0.
The tide soon turned, however, as a Reimis Smith error proved costly, leading to a Cowboys onslaught.
After keeping the pressure on the Dogs, Michael Morgan found Coen Hess who ran a perfect line to score.
This was quickly followed by a Scott Drinkwater solo effort, as he sliced the defence and had too much pace for Stimson on the edge.
Soon after, Valentine Holmes showed off his silky ball skills, laying on a lovely cut-out for Ben Hampton to score on the wing.
The night just got worse for the Dogs, who saw Dallin Watene-Zelezniak sin-binned for a second effort.
With the extra man, the Cowboys capitalised and it was Jason Taumalolo who powered over on the back of a Francis Molo offload.
The Cowboys would head into the break leading 22-6 and the Dogs had it all to do.
There was a bright spot for Renouf To’Omaga, who crossed for his first NRL try with a yawning gap in front of him.
Holmes would then take the lead out to twelve with a penalty goal.
Try as they might, the Dogs could not crack the Cowboys defence until late on.
It was debutant Jake Averillo who found Christian Crichton in the corner to score, in what was a late consolation try.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was quick to praise his forwards, who set the platform in this fixture.
“I’m used to seeing it [from Taumalolo], he just does what he does and he was great tonight,” Green said.
“Jordan McLean in attack was outstanding tonight.
“I’m not sure about his stats but he had real purpose with what he wanted to do with the ball and set the tone early in the game.
Perhaps one of the most impressive was Coen Hess, who, by his own admission, had a poor 2019 season.
“Hessy has made some changes over the off-season,” Green continued.
“By his own admission, he was a bit disappointed with his season last year.
“He’s committed to putting his best foot forward this year and he’s started the season pretty well.”
Not one to shy away from picking the kids, Bulldogs coach Dean Pay said Lewis and Brandon Wakeham just need to learn how to control games.
“Tonight was a really good learning curve and a real lesson for them in what the team needs,” Pay said.
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Jason Taumalolo
2. Coen Hess
- Scott Drinkwater