This is the sixth article in a series naming each club’s best team of loyal stalwarts. Not necessarily just those one-club players but those who turned out for the club over a long period and helped build its success and culture.
North Queensland have shown a glimmer of what the future holds after snapping a 10-game losing streak with a 38-26 win against St George Illawarra.
Down by six points until the final minute, the desperate Dragons were hunting before Cowboys speedsters Murray Tualagi and Hamisao Tabuai-Fidow combined for a length of the field try to seal the win on Saturday in Rockhampton.
The Cowboys recovered from a 10-point halftime deficit to end months of misery.
Halfback Tom Dearden played his best game in North Queensland colours with a try, a try-assist, two line-breaks and three tackle-breaks to snap a losing streak of his own.
The 20-year-old has played 15 NRL games this season, including five for Brisbane, but has not had a win since round three for the Broncos.
However, he showed confidence that has evaded him this year in his first win for the Cowboys since joining mid-season.
Fellow youngster Heilum Luki, 20, scored his third try of the season as Todd Payten’s men kicked into gear early in the second half after being down 20-10 at the break.
Four tries in nine minutes got the Cowboys out to a 32-20 lead as they ripped the young Dragons side to shreds with pace through the middle of the field.
A length of the field intercept try from Ben Hampton started the roll in the 46th minute before Dearden and Luki piled on the points, while Kyle Feldt’s double extended the lead.
Similarly, the Dragons showed signs of life for 2022 with their young spine lighting up their attack.
Fullback Tyrell Sloan,19, scored his fourth try in as many NRL games as well as setting up winger Mikaele Ravalawa for the second of his two tries.
Teenage five-eighth Talatau Amone put up a perfect kick for Sloan’s stunner, while 19-year-old Jayden Sullivan dived over from dummy-half for his second try of the year.
The trio have been a bright spot for the Dragons at the end of a miserable season, with their losing stretch now seven games to end their slim finals hopes.
The Dragons will finish the season against South Sydney next weekend, while the Cowboys will face Manly.