Cowboys demolish Warriors on emotional evening in Townsville

The Cowboys have blown away the New Zealand Warriors in a dominant performance that keeps them in pole position for a home final, registering a 48-4 win that does plenty for their for and against.

It was an emotional evening for North Queensland, who paid tribute to the passing of former coach Paul Green on their return to Townsville, and they turned in a performance that would have made their Premiership-winning boss proud.

With Cronulla hot on their tails, the Cowboys needed to win and win well. From the first five minutes, the result was never in doubt against a New Zealand side that cannot wait for the season to end. The difference in enthusiasm, commitment and cohesion was stark.

It seems unfair to single out a star for North Queensland, as this was a proper team performance, but both halfbacks were excellent. Tom Dearden managed two tries, while Chad Townsend created one for himself and three for others.

The Cowboys could have took an early two, but sensed that the caution was unnecessary: it proved true, as Coen Hess strolled in for the first.

Murray Taulagi got another, postage-stamping Reece Walsh after a slick backline move, but it wasn’t to be completely plain sailing thereafter.

The Warriors put up stiff resistance that limited North Queensland to a penalty goal before posting points of their own, albeit with a little help from the bunker.

Marcelo Montoya was offside at a kick but deemed to be within ten metres of an Edward Kosi bat back. Had it been a closer game, it might have been a bigger deal.

The try sparked the Cowboys back into life. Walsh dropped a kick cold and seconds later, Jeremiah Nanai was in.

Shortly before the break, Scott Drinkwater produced a superb offload to get Peta Hiku in against his old club, and shortly after, Dearden split the line wide open for the next.

Luciano Leilua grabbed another, insouciantly throwing Shaun Johnson out of the way, and it suddenly looked very, very ominous.

The Warriors were well and truly out of it. Dearden got a second from a Townsend kick as Dallin Watene-Zelezniak waited for a ball to go dead, before Townsend kicked for himself for another.

Though the Kiwis had nothing to play for, they hadn’t quit. Hess broke the line and kicked on for Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, and though the winger regathered with the line begging, Walsh swooped to deny the try.

The Warriors nearly ended with a consolation, only for a double movement to be called on Euan Aitken. It fairly summed up the evening for the visitors.

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