Wrecking ball Taumalolo helps Cowboys to victory
A BLOCKBUSTER performance from Cowboys wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo has kept North Queensland's slim finals hopes alive after the underdogs notched up a gutsy 26-12 win over Manly.
Also buoyed the presence of skipper Johnathan Thurston, the depleted Cowboys outfit overcame the loss of several big-name players and a defiant Sea Eagles side to claim just their fourth win of the season at Brookvale Oval last night.
With Michael Morgan, Gavin Cooper and Coen Hess out on Origin duty, plus the loss of starting props Matt Scott (suspension) and Scott Bolton (ribs) during the week, the under siege Cowboys showed great fight to claim the two points that they desperately needed.
It was the first time Thurston has played for North Queensland during the Origin period since he joined the club in 2005.
His experience was invaluable and he played a part in two tries.
But it was the other JT who stole the show.
With four of the side's regular forwards missing, Taumalolo was brilliant, scoring his side's first try and churning out 268m off 25 runs.
He made 12 tackle busts, five offloads and 25 tackles in an unstoppable and inspirational 80 minute performance.
The Tongan international copped criticism earlier this season for slipping away from his usual running average of 200m a game.
But no one can question the heart and form of Taumalolo after last night.
He didn't just stand up for his young and inexperienced forward pack, but for his whole team.
It was a win the Cowboys desperately needed, after a disappointing start to the season.
While there is still a long way to go for this side to be truly in finals contention, this victory does keep their slim hopes of a top eight finish alive.
They now need to win at least eight of their remaining 11 games.
Coach Paul Green has been waiting for a moment to spark their season and the whole team will be hopeful last night was that moment.
There were strong performances across the park, with Ethan Lowe and Lachlan Coote both solid in their return after getting dropped two weeks ago.
Green would also be impressed with young forwards Corey Jensen and Sam Hoare, who started in place of Scott and Bolton.
The pair ate up 221m between them and never stepped away from a more experienced and imposing Manly forward pack.
The Cowboys will have their best chance yet to notch up back-to-back wins for the first time this season when they travel to Darwin to take on last-placed Parramatta next week.