North Queensland stars stand up and take charge against St George Illawarra.
Johnathan Thurston sounded a warning ahead of the second State of Origin after being instrumental in North Queensland’s 22-16 victory over St George Illawarra at WIN Stadium.
After carrying a groin injury into the first State of Origin clash and playing below his best, Thurston had a hand in all four of the Cowboys’ tries and kicked three goals to end his side’s run of five losses in a row.
The Dragons came home with a flurry as they looked to send the game into golden-point, with the visitors forced to defend seven consecutive sets in the final 10 minutes.
But their line held firm as Cowboys’ coach Neil Henry paid tribute to his side and their determination not to let a golden chance for victory slip through their fingers.
“The resolve defensively was something we needed to show,” Henry said.
“It was a great effort tonight. We had a few errors in our attack and it’s a hard-fought win.
“They had a lot of momentum and a lot of ball and we have to make sure that it’s a turning point.
“We were hanging on but it was going to take a special play to get through us, but it was pretty nervous out there.”
The win caps a turbulent week for the Cowboys off the field, with the side being without State of Origin prop James Tamou after he was suspended for being caught drink driving.
Josh Dugan continued to push his claims to fill the vacant NSW fullback slot for the second inter-state game with another fine performance despite the Dragons’ loss.
Dugan and coach Steve Price might have nervous wait after the former Raider caught Thurston high in a tackle, however, Dugan was not put on report for the hit.
Both St George and the Cowboys have the week off in round 15 as a result of the bye.