The Cowboys stretched their winning streak to five as they closed out Magic Round in style with a 36-12 victory over Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday night.
The last time the Cowboys won five in a row was early in 2016, in the midst of a golden era for the club which included their maiden premiership in 2015 and a grand final appearance in 2017.
The game opened in spectacular fashion with Murray Taulagi setting up a try for Scott Drinkwater with an outrageous flick pass as he was being bundled over the sidelined before Wests Tigers debutant Junior Tupou flew high to snare a Jackson Hastings bomb to score the first try of his career.
With the Tigers up 6-4 after Tupou's try a mistake by Starford To'a from the kick-off and a high shot by Tyrone Peachey handed the Cowboys the chance to hit straight back and it was Taulagi finishing off a sweeping left side raid.
Spectacular try on debut for Tupou
A penalty against Reuben Cotter for a dangerous tackle on Tupou gave the Tigers field position and they capitalised through Luke Garner, who slid into the right corner after halves Jackson Hastings and Luke Brooks had combined superbly.
The Cowboys then blew the game open with two tries in two minutes, the first through prolific winger Kyle Feldt and the second through Cotter, who ran 60 metres to grab the first four-pointer of his career.
Cotter's runaway try capped a powerful first half as he continues to press his claims for a Maroons Origin call-up.
A huge blow for the Tigers when playmaker Luke Brooks was unable to return for the second half due to a hamstring problem.
What a way to score your first NRL try!
Taulagi looked to have stretched the Cowboys' lead with a spectacular try in the 46th minute but replays showed his boot had grazed the sidelined.
The Cowboys flyer needed just four minutes to make amends, scoring from a Chad Townsend grubber to make it 26-12 as the floodgates threatened to open.
In the 58th minute Tom Dearden then laid on a try for Peta Hiku with a darting cross field run and pinpoint pass to the centre.
Try as they might the Tigers could not crack the Cowboys wall and it was Jeremiah Nanai who had the final say with a flying take from a Dearden bomb for his eighth try of the season.
Nanai's try was the 59th of the weekend across the eight games as Magic Round delivered plenty of quality action and a clean sweep for Queensland sides with the Cowboys, Titans and Broncos all winning.
Match: Wests Tigers v Cowboys
Round 10 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
- Tigers winger Ken Maumalo was sent for a HIA in the 13th minute after high contact from Chad Townsend in a tackle. Maumalo passed his HIA.
- Tigers hooker Jake Simpkin was taken from the field for a HIA in the 28th minute after getting his head in an akward position trying to tackle Scott Drinkwater. Simpkin failed his HIA.
- Cowboys prop Reuben Cotter went on report in the first half for a dangerous tackle on Junior Tupou.
- In a high-quality first half the Cowboys completed at 100 per cent with 18 from 18 while the Tigers were 15 of 18 at 83 per cent.
Townsend's magic touch puts Feldt in
- The Cowboys have scored 30-plus points in four games in a row for the first time in the club's 27-year history.
- Props Reuben Cotter and Jordan McLean had 27 runs and 318 metres between them for North Queensland.
- 130,122 fans poured through the gates at Suncorp across the three days of Magic Round.
- Junior Tupou was strong on debut for the Tigers with six tackle breaks and 89 running metres.
- Kelma Tuilagi went on report in the final play of the game for a tackle off the ball on Kyle Feldt.
Play of the Game
Cowboys winger Murray Taulagi produced the most extraordinary pass of the season in the final match of Magic Round to set up his team's first try. Taulagi was being bundled into touch by a Jackson Hastings cover tackle and was airborn when he somehow managed to flick a pass back inside for Scott Drinkwater to score. On a weekend of sublime chip and chase tries and sizzling attack by the Panthers, Broncos and Rabbitohs, it was Taulagi who stole the show with this magic act.
Forget magic, that's outrageous!
What They Said
"Murray is really skilful, he understands the game really well, he makes really smart decisions out on that edge. He's good in the air and he's strong out of his own end and he's really starting to believe how good he can be. This is his third year in first grade and he's one of a number of our guys who are in that sweet spot I guess, starting to really understand what the NRL is about in their third year of footy. I'm really pleased for him, he works hard, he's got himself fit and he's doing a great job for us." - Cowboys coach Todd Payten on Murray Taulagi
Cowboys: Round 10
"Taking a step forward, it's a learning curve because the same sort of thing happened last week. We were in it, we were going tit-for-tat, scores are level and then we come out and let the scoreboard dictate how we want to play. At some points there we went down the field and we didn't play like we did in the first half. I never put it down to [lack of] effort, it's like we're trying too hard almost, we're going out of the system to try and do something good for the team but at the end of the day you have to stay with it and you have to put the 80 minutes together. You can't just put in 40 minutes and then hope for the best in the second 40."
- Wests Tigers captain James Tamou
Wests Tigers: Round 10
The Tigers will be hoping David Nofoaluma and Thomas Mikaele can return from concussion for a Friday night clash with the Bulldogs at Leichhardt Oval. Both men missed tonight's game as did Oliver Gildart (calf) and Asu Kepaoa (COVID). They will also be sweating on scans on Luke Brooks' hamstring after he sat out the second half with ice on the injury.
The Cowboys are at home in Townsville for a highly anticipated round 11 clash with the Melbourne Storm. Todd Payten's men have won their past two games at Queensland Country Bank Stadium against the Titans and Knights by a combined score of 66-20 and are sure to be greeted by a raucous home crowd on Saturday night.