The North Queensland Cowboys have held the Rabbitohs scoreless at Barlow Park in Cairns in round 17 today (Sunday), in front of 14,923 Members and supporters in John Sutton’s 250th NRL game.
Johnathan Thurston ran the show for the visitors, collecting a personal tally of 12 points from a try and four goals.
The Cowboys were the first to register points when Johnathan Thurston kicked a penalty goal in the third minute.
It was Thurston who would cross for the Cowboys’ first try in the 12th minute, when the video referee determined that he reached out from dummy half and planted the ball down on the goal line. Thurston converted his try to take an eight-point lead.
North Queensland struck again six minutes later when Matt Scott bustled his way over the line. Thurston converted to establish a 14-nil lead midway through the first half.
The Cowboys had far more than their fair share of the ball in the first half, with possession rates in their favour of up to 75%, 30-minutes into the match.
The Rabbitohs were under pressure throughout the half but managed to thwart a number of attacking raids from the Cowboys to keep the deficit to 14 points at the break.
The Cowboys picked up where they left off in the 44th minute of play when a slick backline movement to the left saw Javid Bowen score in the corner. Thurston missed the conversion taking the score line to 18-nil in favour of the visitors.
Greg Inglis went close to scoring in the 50th minute when captain Greg Inglis beat numerous defenders to get over the line, only to have Scott Bolton get under the ball to stop the try.
Three plays later the Cowboys saved another try when Joe Burgess was driven into touch, losing the ball in the process of the gang tackle.
Johnathan Thurston extended the lead to 20 points midway through the second half with another penalty goal, and as the skies grew darker at Barlow Park, the Cowboys continued to halt the forward progress of the Rabbitohs with their strong defence.
The play went from end-to-end with the loose carries hurting both teams.
The Rabbitohs had a final chance to score three minutes from full time but the Cowboys managed to take an intercept, putting an end to the Rabbitohs’ chances of posting points in the game.
In what can only be described as a lacklustre game, the Cowboys defence was too good for the Rabbitohs in the end.
The Rabbitohs will have the bye in round 18.
North Queensland Cowboys 20 (Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Javid Bowen tries; Johnathan Thurston 4 goals)
South Sydney Rabbitohs 0