North Queensland Cowboys ended a two-game losing streak and got back into the top eight of the NRL ladder with a 24-12 victory over Newcastle Knights at 1300SMILES Stadium.
Ben Hampton was missing for the Cowboys with Ray Thompson joining the bench.
Newcastle coach Nathan Brown had dropped Trent Hodkinson. It meant that Sione Mata’utia moves to halfback for the Knights, with Luke Yates starting in the second row and Jaelen Feeney joining the bench.
The Cowboys almost scored twice in their first two sets and dominated early possession and Gavin Cooper eventually touched down with an unconverted try from dummy-half. The Cowboys then added a penalty goal from Kyle Feldt for offside.
The Knights quickly levelled the scores through Nathan Ross and they took the lead with a long range try when Brendan Elliot gathered Cooper’s grubber kick to run the length of the field.
Kalyn Ponga pulled a try back to make the half-time score 10-12.
The Cowboys responded with tries by Kane Linnett and Ponga’s second, with Ethan Lowe converting both tries, while Feldt added a penalty on 73 minutes. The Cowboys were able to keep the Knights scoreless in the second half to gain a comfortable victory in the end.
The Knights remain rooted on two points at the bottom of the table.
Cowboys: 1 Kalyn Ponga, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 John Asiata, 7 Michael Morgan, 8 Patrick Kaufusi, 9 Blake Leary, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Gavin Cooper (c), 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo; Interchange: 15 Ethan Lowe, 16 Ben Spina, 17 Corey Jensen, 19 Ray Thompson.
Knights: 1 Brendan Elliot, 2 Ken Sio, 3 Dane Gagai, 4 Peter Mata’utia, 5 Nathan Ross, 6 Brock Lamb, 11 Sione Mata’utia (c), 8 Daniel Saifiti, 9 Danny Levi, 10 Josh Starling, 14 Luke Yates, 12 Sam Stone, 13 Mitchell Barnett; Interchange: 15 Anthony Tupou, 16 Jack Stockwell, 17 Jacob Saifiti, 18 Jaelen Feeney.
A full review of all the weekend’s NRL action and a preview of Tuesday’s Anzac Day matches will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express