Cowboys beat Broncos in defensive battle
North Queensland big guns Johnathan Thurston and Matt Bowen combined to orchestrate just their third home victory over Brisbane in a hard-fought 12-0 NRL win on Friday.
The match was scoreless for an hour in a tight, defensive tussle but the Thurston and Bowen combination broke it open as they set up Gavin Cooper and Kane Linnett for late tries.
North Queensland had beaten the Broncos just twice in Townsville since their inception in 1995, and it is only the second time they have beaten their Queensland rivals twice in one season.
After a scoreless first half where the only real scoring chance was a Peter Wallace effort ruled out by the video referee, the game started to open up in the second half.
The Cowboys consistently threatened the Broncos’ line, with Antonio Winterstein, James Tamou and Glenn Hall all denied in-goal or near the tryline.
But just after the hour mark, Thurston and Bowen combined to set up Cooper.
Thurston, backing up from Queensland’s State or Origin loss to NSW on Wednesday, picked up the ball on an awkward bounce and ran across the defensive line before playing Bowen inside for a line break.
The fullback played to supporting runner Cooper, who scored under the posts.
Thurston and Bowen were once again integral in the 76th minute to put the match beyond doubt when the quick-stepping No.1 put centre Linnett into a gap after receiving a Thurston pass.
Cowboys starting prop Ashton Sims will be sweating on the findings of the match review panel after being put on report for a swinging arm with a clenched fist to Ben Hannant’s head in the first half.
It was the first time the Cowboys kept an opponent scoreless since the preliminary final against Parramatta in 2005 and co-captain Matt Scott rated it one of their best defensive showings.
“It’s right up the top, I can’t remember a time where we’ve hung in like that before,” Scott said.
“We’ve had a couple of calls go against us, a couple of repeat sets and in the past we’ve probably dropped our head a bit and let that affect us.
“But all credit to the boys, we hung in there against a good attacking side.”
Scott, who was one of five players from both sides that figured in Origin II, praised Thurston for backing up in a high-intensity match.
“I thought JT (Thurston) was sensational. For him to get through the amount of work he does two days after an Origin was something special and we needed it tonight,” Scott said.
“It’s probably the quickest NRL game I’ve played in and we needed all the 17 to contribute.”
Broncos coach Anthony Griffin praised the performance of his side, but was left to lament missed chances.
“You could tell at halftime it wasn’t going to take many points to win the game with the way both teams were defending,” Griffin said.
“We just didn’t get any ball or any field position in the second half and when we did we missed a couple of chances.”© AAP 2013