Ben Blaschke,, NRL.com
Each team has one player who can turn a game on its head and secure victory with an amazing play, and for the Cowboys that X-Factor is Johnathan Thurston.
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Thurston's Top 10 Moments:
1. Round 21, 2002
Scores his first NRL try for Canterbury, against his future club, as he capitalises on great lead-up work from Brent Sherwin and Nigel Vagana to step past a defender and score between the posts. He later adds icing to the cake when he pounces on a Sherwin grubber to score the match-winner in the dying minutes.
2. Round 23, 2003
Produces one of his finest performances in a 56-24 thrashing of Manly, scoring two tries, making three line-breaks, producing two try assists and running for 155 metres on the same day that Hazem El Masri equals the world record for consecutive goals with 35.
3. Grand Final, 2004
Having announced that he would leave Canterbury at the end of the season to join North Queensland, Thurston comes off the bench to win his first (and only) premiership as the Bulldogs come from 13-6 down to defeat rivals Sydney Roosters 16-13 in a grand final thriller.
4. Round 1, 2006
Scores his first career hat-trick in an opening round 36-4 thrashing of Queensland rivals Brisbane. Thurston scored tries in the 15th, 31st and 59th minutes and added six goals on his way to a personal tally of 24 points.
5. Round 1, 2006
Thurston’s performance against the Broncos is more than just a great start to the 2006 season – it also sees him break the club record for most points in a game by a Cowboys player. It is Thurston’s first ever win against Brisbane and just the second time North Queensland have prevailed over their fellow Queensland club.
6. Round 22, 2007
Thurston produces a series of crucial plays, including a stunning sideline conversion with scores locked at 14-all in the 51st minute, as North Queensland come storming home to down Penrith 30-26 in a golden-point thriller. Trailing by 10 points with five minutes remaining, Thurston first sends Justin Smith over, then combines with Matt Bowen as they go the length of the field.
7. Finals Week 2, 2007
Thurston steers his side to a 49-12 thrashing of the Warriors in Townsville. Thurston is at his dazzling best as he sets up a crucial try on the stroke of half-time and lands a brilliant sideline conversion to break a 12-all deadlock before running riot in the second half.
8. Round 11, 2009
Thurston scores 16 points in a 36-10 thrashing of Newcastle – scoring a brilliant solo try in the process. In the 64th minute, Thurston dummies, slips out of a tackle and wrestles his way through another to plan the ball as the Cowboys flex their premiership muscle.
9. Round 5, 2011
Scores a points victory over his long-time rival Scott Prince, charging down a Prince grubber with his boot before picking up the ball and racing 70 metres to score a try as the Cowboys prevail 22-12 over the Titans at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
10. Round 5, 2011
In the same game Thurston displays all his skills as he produces a run-around to put Gavin Cooper through a gap, then backs up before throwing a superb pass for Matthew Bowen to score despite being knocked off balance in the process.Vote now on the NRL X-Factor