Round 20 of the #NRL opened with an emphatic Brisbane Broncos win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bull...
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Michael Morgan was the star as the five-eighth lead North Queensland to a 30-14 victory over a disappointing Canterbury side at ANZ Stadium.
It was a return to the scene of their 2015 triumph for the Cowboys albeit without their talisman in Jonathan Thurston, put on a first half masterclass to put away the Bulldogs side that played second fiddle the whole contest.
Due to the absence of Thurston, Morgan had to take the reins and the Queensland representative did so in style. Four try-assists all off the boot combined with scoring a muscled effort himself fired the Cowboys out to a 20-nil first half lead.
On a cold night, it was a night for the forwards and didn't they feast. Young Coen Hess scored another double to take his tally to eight for the season while old stalwarts Gavin Cooper and Scott Bolton got through their work with minimal fuss against a much vaunted Bulldogs pack.
For Canterbury it was once again, a night of frustration. Their attack stuttered through the contest and didn't register any points until the Cowboys were down to twelve men. Kerrod Holland got himself a double and a full field team effort saved face for the Bulldogs.
With the incoming recruitment of Kieran Foran - that places pressure on the current halves in Moses Mbye and Matt Frawley to produce something that impresses coach Des Hasler but neither could on a night that needed someone in blue and white to just stamp their authority in the contest.
North Queensland jump back into the top eight with this result, and can count any victories picked up without Thurston to be bonuses - although if Morgan can continue this form, it'll put them right in contention comes September.
Canterbury will reassess before a Sunday afternoon clash with the Roosters in Round 11 at ANZ, while the Cowboys have another away trip when they visit the Shire and 2016 premiers Cronulla.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 14 - North Queensland Cowboys 30
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Halftime Score: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 0 North Queensland Cowboys 18
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Michael Morgan
2 points - Coen Hess
1 points - Scott Bolton
CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS (14)
Tries: Kerrod Holland (2), Danny Fualalo
Conversions: Kerrod Holland (1/3)
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (30)
Tries: Kyle Feldt, Michael Morgan, Coen Hess (2), Ben Spina
Conversions: Kyle Feldt (1/1), Ethan Lowe (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Ethan Lowe (1/1)