Dragons run of losses continues at DFS
North Queensland produced some outstanding attack and defence in front of their home crowd to snuff out St George Illawarra 30-6 at Dairy Farmers Stadium to consolidate their NRL top-eight position.by NRL
North Queensland produced some outstanding attack and defence in front of their home crowd to snuff out St George Illawarra 30-6 at Dairy Farmers Stadium to consolidate their NRL top-eight position.
The fifth victory of 2012 continued the Cowboys' fine record at home against the Dragons and was just the boost they needed with the representative season drawing near.
Co-captain Johnathan Thurston was outstanding for the Cowboys, helping to set up a 22-point lead by half time in a complete reversal of his team's first half against South Sydney last weekend.
However in the second half, the five-eighth was involved in the most controversial incident in the match which appeared to slow down the Cowboys' momentum.
Dragons back-rower Matt Prior was sent from the field for a 55th minute high shot that flattened the star playmaker and forced him off the field for precautionary reasons.
After a trip to the medical room, Thurston returned to the Cowboys bench and did not appear to be suffering any significant problems from the illegal hit.
Prop Matthew Scott was taken from the field on 60 minutes in his first game back from a month-long injury layoff, but also does not seem to be facing another stint on the sidelines.
Thurston had a hand in three of the Cowboys' four first-half tries, starting the scoring spree in the second minute when he sent centre Brent Tate on a break downfield before the Origin hopeful found an unmarked Ray Thompson on his inside.
The Thurston-Matthew Bowen combination then came to the fore in a try for the fullback and then in a four-pointer for left centre Kane Linnett, who was back in the Cowboys line-up after overcoming a hamstring injury.
Tate grabbed a try of his own with a put-down in the corner that was given the nod by video referee Russell Smith, before Thurston turned into a try-saver with some valiant tryline defence on Dragons forward Jeremy Latimore.
Fullback Morris finally put the Dragons on the board in the 50th minute, getting on to a clever inside kick from Jason Nightingale after the winger made a line break down the side.
It was the first try the Cowboys had conceded in 110 minutes of football, a statistic that will please defence coach Peter Ryan.
Despite playing down a man for the final 25 minutes, the Dragons held their own, but Cowboys second-rower Tariq Sims put the match beyond doubt in the 71st minute when he pounced on a Thompson kick.
It's the seventh time in nine games that North Queensland has beaten the Dragons at Dairy Farmers.
The Cowboys will have some disciplinary concerns of their own, with James Segeyaro placed on the report for a 60th minute high hit on Dragons half Ben Hornby.
Cowboys coach Neil Henry said Thurston seemed fine in the dressing sheds and thought the send-off was justified, but it would be up to the match review committee to work out a penalty.
"I've seen it once and it was high and sometimes they're on report and to say whether it warrants a send-off, I'd probably say yes in that situation and I'd expect it'd happen to one of my players if that happened," Henry said.
Dragons mentor Steve Price said Prior was disappointed with himself and felt he'd let his teammates down, but said an action like that wasn't in the second-rower's nature.
"It was a very unfortunate incident and he's very apologetic in the dressing shed," Price said.
"He's a bit disappointed and feels like he's let his team down."
North Queensland Cowboys 30 (M Bowen, K Linnett, T Sims, B Tate, R Thompson tries, J Thurston 3, M Bowen 2 goals) d St George Illawarra Dragons 6 (B Morris try, J Soward goal). Crowd: 15,006.
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