A second-half blitz from the Cowboys U20s team has secured victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs after being level for the first 40 minutes.
Centre Bacho Salam and strike forward Emry Pere both scored a try in each half in the seven-tries-to-three win as sharp-shooting halfback Jake Clifford posted seven from seven conversions.
The home side got off to a flyer, racing to an 18-0 lead in as many minutes as Salam, Pere and winger Michael Carroll all crossed early.
But the game reached a dramatic turning point midway through the opening stanza as in-form hooker Calum Gahan copped a sickening knock in a tackle, the young No.9 lying prone for several minutes before being helped from the field.
He would take no further part in the game, and the stoppage seemed to give the young Rabbitohs a chance to re-establish themselves in the game.
Souths ran in a three-pronged riposte to their opponents, with tries to back-rower Sam Johnstone, bench forward Cruz Topai-Aveai and big prop Josh Saunders levelling scores on the stroke of half time.
The second half would swing back in the favour of the home team as classy fullback Kalyn Ponga – returning to NYC duty after a fortnight in the top grade – crossed, ably assisted by Gahan’s backup Duarne Dempsey.
With Clifford accurate with his kicking, four was always being turned into six and when Salam and Pere crossed for their second tries – and captain Mitch Dunn adding one of his own – the young Cowboys raced away with the match.
It was a tough match for the young Rabbitohs who came into the contest high on confidence after their big win against the Roosters in round four. Ryan Carr and his team will be looking to bounce back in their next clash against Penrith Panthers at Pepper Stadium.
North Queensland Cowboys 42 (Bacho Salam 2, Emry Pere 2, Michael Carroll, Kalyn Ponga, Mitch Dunn tries; Jake Clifford 7 goals)
South Sydney Rabbitohs 18 (Sam Johnstone, Cruz Topai-Aveai, Josh Saunders tries; Adam Doueihi 3 goals)