A Johnathan Thurston-inspired masterclass has helped the North Queensland Cowboys to a 30-10 win against the Gold Coast in their NRL trial at Cairns’ Barlow Park.
Thurston’s three try assists gave his side a 16-6 half time lead and from there the Cowboys were never headed as they raced in three further second half tries through Jake Granville, Tautau Moga and Kelepi Tanginoa to claim their comfortable win.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was happy with his side’s performance.
“I thought we handled the conditions tonight well in Cairns and overall it was a solid effort,” he said.
“We executed really well so that was pleasing.”
The Titans’ loss capped a disastrous few days for the besieged club, with utility Jamie Dowling and hooker Beau Falloon both charged with supplying drugs following a six-month investigation by the Crime and Corruption Commission in the same operation that nabbed rugby star Karmichael Hunt.
Nate Myles was busy in both attack and defence for the Titans, as was teammate Greg Bird in his first hit-out of the year.
Australian and Queensland prop Matt Scott also got through his first match back unscathed from a shoulder injury.
But it was all the Thurston show in the first half, with the halfback superb in the opening 40 minutes setting up Moga in the corner for the game’s opening try in the 17th minute.
Five minutes later his sublime cross field kick fell into the waiting arms of inside centre Matthew Wright who did the rest to score to the right hand side of the posts for an early 10-0 lead.
The Titans hit back through a burrowing try to Matt Srama in the 29th minute but just prior to half time Thurston was again at his scheming best when a short ball to back rower Gavin Cooper saw the forward cross for a further four points.
The Titans finished the night’s scoring through a consolation try to winger Kevin Gordon.
Titans coach Neil Henry said his side has to improve ahead of round one of the NRL season.
“We were very patchy tonight and got off to a fairly slow start,” he said.
“There were some good signs here and there but we’ll continue to prepare as best we can and get ready for our first official game of the year.”