The Cowboys ran the Dogs around the park with a 36-0 thrashing at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville.
Johnathan Thurston and the returning Michael Morgan put on a masterclass performance, both having a hand in the seven tries scored.
The first half was near perfect for the Cowboys, who completed most of their sets and ran in three tries. Cowboys winger Antonio Winterstein was first to score, in the fourth minute, after Bulldogs winger Sam Perrett knocked on from a Thurston kick. Winterstein picked the ball up then defied the efforts of three defenders clinging to his back to score. He was able to show off his strength again only four minutes later after a right-left shift by Thurston allowed him to score his second.
The back-line, led by Thurston, ripped the Dogs to shreds. In the 24th minute, Thurston threw a lovely cut-out pass for Javid Bowen to score in the corner and increase their lead to 16-0.
The Cowboys came back from the break determined to continue the massacre and sending Justin O’Neill over in the corner off a grubber kick from Morgan in the 45th minute. The one dark moment for the Cowboys followed immediately: as Thurston took the conversion he suffered a grade one tear to a hamstring. He missed the conversion, was forced to leave the field and will likely miss next week’s clash with Melbourne as well.
Thurston’s departure didn’t phase the Cowboys one bit. He watched from the sideline as they ran in three more tries. Ethan Lowe crashed over in the 65th minute and O’Neill collected his second in the 71st minute. Winterstein completed the rout by going over for his hat-trick in the last minute to secure the Cowboys’ ninth straight victory at home.
Titans deliver death blow to Eels
The Gold Coast Titans ended the Eels’ season as they continued their own charge to the finals with an emphatic 34-14 victory at CBUS Stadium.
The Titans got off to a flyer in the first 20 minutes, scoring three tries. Former Warrior Konrad Hurrell scored his first as a Titan in the sixth minute when he muscled through four defenders off a short ball by David Mead. Anthony Don was next to score for the Titans in the 12th minute after a double-kick from Tyrone Roberts and Nene Macdonald for Don to finish in the corner. The next try was for Chris McQueen as the Titans started to have some fun with the football. Ash Taylor managed to expose Clinton Gutherson and set up a perfect ball for McQueen to catch and score. The Eels’ finally ended their embarrassment in the 36th minute when Ken Edwards crashing over from close range.
In the second half, the Eels were desperate to muster a comeback and looked, briefly, as if they had the goods to take the match. Gutherson kicked a perfectly directed grubber towards the right corner, the awkward bounce catching Macdonald out. Bevan French judged the bounce better, flying up to gather the high bounce then demonstrating gymnastic flexibility to touch down centimetres from the dead ball line. The Eels’ hopes took a blow when Macdonald scored his third try in two games, this one off a Roberts cross-field bomb in the 66th. MacDonald simply had to leap up and gather to score the first double of his career. collect. As Eels’ fans started to head for the exits Jeff Robson went over but it was far from enough for the Eels. By the end, the Eels were cooked, and a brain explosion in the dying seconds saw them gift the ball to the Titans’ Taylor, who ran half the length of the field to score unchallenged between the posts. The Titans now lie seventh on the ladder but face a huge challenge next week when they meet the high-flying Cronulla Sharks. The Eels, who allowed the Titans to get away with 14 offloads, will want to work on defence before they meet Wests Tigers on Saturday night.
Tigers topple Dragons
The Wests Tigers beat the St George Illawarra Dragons 25-12 at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Tigers coach Jason Taylor’s decision to drop Robbie Farah to reserve grade didn’t faze the Tigers, as the combination of James Tedesco, Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses proved to make the difference with their attack.
The Dragons were first to post points with Kurt Mann scoring in the 5th minute. Mann scored in the corner after a slick back-line play orchestrated by Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall, who was playing his 250th first grade game. Widdop stretched their lead to eight with a penalty goal in the 10th minute – the Dragons’ last points until well into the second half.
The Tigers bounced back quickly, going through the hands to put David Nofoaluma untouched into the corner in the 15th minute. Leeson Ah Mau was put on report for a shoulder charge that knocked Tim Grant unconscious, forcing him to the sideline. The Tigers pressed on, with Brooks scoring a solo effort in the 26th minute before Nofoaluma offloaded to Tedesco to put the Tigers in front 18-8 at the break.
After a gritty opening to the second forty, Moses pounced for the Tigers. He kicked a 40/20 and then backed up with an offload for Josh Aloiai to score his first try of the season. Jordan Rankin kicked a penalty goal to give the Tigers a 16-point lead, and effectively shut out the Dragons. A late try from Adam Quinlan gave the Dragons hope until Moses slotted a field goal to ensure the Tigers put a serious dent in the Dragons’ finals campaign. – Jesse Mullens
Penrith Panthers 31-12 Brisbane Broncos
Canberra Raiders 26-22 New Zealand Warriors
Melbourne Storm 26-10 Sydney Roosters
Cronulla Sharks 36-4 Newcastle Knights
Manly Sea Eagles 20-12 South Sydney Rabbitohs
Photo of Jason Taumalolo barging through Dave Klemmer and James Graham from the NRL’s Twitter feed.