Jonathan Thurston has signed off in style by leading his side to a dominant 44-6 win over the Parramatta Eels in front of a packed house at 1300SMILES Stadium tonight.
The win was highlighted by a sensational Kyle Feldt hat-trick and a near perfect first half performance from the Cowboys, who shot out to a 32-0 lead at halftime after completing 20 from 21 sets to completely shut the Eels out of the match.
The Cowboys greatest player of all time and man of the moment Thurston was outstanding for the home side, setting up two tries and conducting plays to perfection as the Cowboys destroyed Parramatta to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon a year after going all the way to the Big Dance in 2017.
In arguably one of the club's biggest regular season games since their inception in 1995, the Cowboys honoured their club co-captains in Thurston and Matt Scott who was playing game 250 for the club, as well as their families in front of a packed house in Townsville in a gesture that lifted the atmosphere prior to a ball being kicked.
Off the kickoff, the home side charged down the field thanks to three consecutive penalties and it was the Lord of Townsville who got the Cowboys on the scoreboard with a penalty goal right in front of the posts.
The Cowboys number 7 was again involved minutes later, when off the back of strong runs from Scott and Jason Taumololo, the Cowboys found themselves inside their red zone and the conductor Thurston was given the ball close to the line and despite looking like scoring himself, he unselfishly hit a flying Ben Hampton to score the first try of the night. Thurston converted and it was 8 nil.
Hampton then bagged his second try minutes later, when…you guessed it Thurston again found the replacement fullback sniffing around close to the tryline to crash over and extend the Cowboys lead to eight points.
Winger Kyle Feldt then got into the act with two spectacular tries in a matter of minutes. The first saw Feldt latch onto a superb cross field kick from rookie five-eighth Jake Clifford, taking a spectacular AFL style grab over the head of opposite George Jennings. Minutes later Feldt got the ball out wide and got around Jennings diving for the corner and despite being airborne with his whole body hovering above the touchline, somehow he managed to plant the ball down inside the corner post in a try that has to be seen to be believed! Thurston converted both tries and all of the sudden Parramatta were down by 26 points in as many minutes.
Hampton then again caused the Eels defence further problems, when the he sliced straight through the middle of some tired Eels defenders. The former Storm utility was brought down just over halfway, when the ball found backrower Gavin Cooper, who found the fastest man on the field in Gideon Gela-Mosby who flew to the tryline to give the Cowboys an emphatic 32-0 lead at halftime.
Feldt then completed his hat-trick after the break, when Clifford this time put in a deft grubber for his winger and catching the Eels defence napping, Feldt got a hand to the ball to score and the Eels were completely shot.
While the Cowboys skipper has just about all the records in the book, it was his often unheralded backrow partner Gavin Cooper who secured his own unique record, when the Queensland backrower scored for the eighth consecutive match to break Immortal Frank Burge's record from 1918. An incredible achievement in today's modern game.
Parramatta finally got on the scoreboard when it was far too late, when Corey Norman and Jarryd Hayne combined to put Michael Jennings over for a consolation try but it was too little too late for the Eels who now look like securing their first spoon since 2013.
North Queensland now finish their disappointing season on the Gold Coast against Queensland rivals the Titans, while the Eels face the very difficult assignment of defeating the high flying Roosters at ANZ Stadium next Saturday night if they are to avoid finishing last for 2018.