COWBOYSBOYS SMASH H EELS

COWBOYS POINTS FRENZY IN MARCH TO THE FI­NALS

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - LIAM BUT­TER­WORTH liam. but­ter­worth@ news. com. au

NORTH Queens­land Cowboys made a state­ment last night in the fi­nal 20 min­utes of their 46- 4 thump­ing of Par­ra­matta. The Cowboys in­flicted their big­gest win this sea­son and big­gest win over the Eels. It was their 14th vic­tory this year and should see them set a new record for wins and com­pe­ti­tion points by sea­son’s end. Eight of the Cowboys’ 14 wins this sea­son have been by six points or less. But that trend changed last night when the Cowboys ran in five tries late in the sec­ond half to stop any chance of an up­set.

NORTH Queens­land’s tryscor­ing power is com­ing out of left field, with the long- term part­ner­ship of An­to­nio Win­ter­stein and Kane Lin­nett pro­vid­ing some pol­ish to the Cowboys fin­ish­ing.

With Cowboys co- cap­tain Johnathan Thurston in the kind of form that should de­liver him a record fourth Dally M Medal, left edge backs Win­ter­stein and Lin­nett are di­rectly ben­e­fit­ing as they form a ruth­less edge com­bi­na­tion.

They both scored in the record 46- 4 win over the Par­ra­matta Eels last night and com­bined have now crossed for seven of the Cowboys last 16 tries.

Win­ter­stein scored the open­ing try of the night with the Cowboys first at­tack­ing set, fin­ish­ing off a slick back­line move­ment cre­ated by full­back Lach­lan Coote fol­low­ing a Matt Scott pass at the line.

Lin­nett could have gone him­self but found his edge part­ner Win­ter­stein, who has now scored five tries in five matches.

The left side could have had two more tries in­side the first 14 min­utes of the match, but for a dropped ball by Lach­lan Coote while Thurston’s chip kick was des­per­ately cleared by the Eels de­fence be­fore Lin­nett could get it down.

Cen­tre Lin­nett did even­tu­ally cross for his fourth try in three games dur­ing the sec­ond half, ben­e­fit­ing from Jake Granville’s pace out of dummy half.

Win­ter­stein and Lin­nett have played to­gether for most of the past four sea­sons and room to­gether on the road.

Their fa­mil­iar­ity with each other car­ries over to the de­fen­sive end, with just five of the past 31 tries the Cowboys have con­ceded com­ing down their side.

Co- cap­tain Thurston said the amount of time he, back­rower Gavin Cooper and the out­side backs Lin­nett and Win­ter­stein had been play­ing to­gether had been key to their strength.

“Coops has been out­stand­ing and Kane and Tones are bring­ing the ball back off our line with plenty of punt and we’ve got some good shape there,” Thurston said. “De­fen­sively we’re do­ing pretty well and that’s the part we want to keep im­prov­ing on and con­tin­u­ing to get bet­ter at.”

On the other side, the un­der- fire Cowboys right edge is start­ing to tighten, with only Reece Robin­son’s pace lead­ing to a Par­ra­matta try last night.

Justin O’Neill’s des­per­ate lunge stopped Brad Takairangi from putting the Eels back even although the cen­tre was taken from the field late with a knee in­jury. O’Neill will have scans on the knee this week but is ex­pected to be named in the team to­day.

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