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A ruthless second-half performance powered North Queensland to a 32-12 win at Hunter Stadium in Round 10 this year.

They had to overcome a slow start to get there however with both Timana Tahu and Neville Costigan held up over the line in the opening even minutes before the Knights took an early 6-0 lead when Darius Boyd raced through to send Junior Sa’u across.

The visitors hit back strongly. First Ashley Graham finished off a nice backline move to score in the right-hand corner, then Brent Tate raced clear on the same edge before finding Ray Thompson backing up on the inside.

A strong Chris Houston effort just before the half-time break saw scores level at 12 apiece, but it was all one-way traffic in the second half as the Cowboys scored three unanswered tries.

In the 57th minute, Johnathan Thurston’s close-range chip was deflected into the arms of Michael Morgan to break the deadlock and give his side the edge. Thurston was at it again six minutes later with a brilliant cut-out pass for Graham to score his second. 

The captain then extended the lead to 14 with an easy penalty goal after Matt Bowen was pulled back when he looked certain to score and the Cowboys put the icing on the cake with a remarkable last-second try that saw the ball toed ahead four times before Gavin Cooper won the race to make it 32-12.

Newcastle paid the price for completing just 69 per cent of their sets, despite big-name recruit Boyd producing his best game of the season with 201 metres from 18 runs and 40 touches.

Thurston and Tate both finished the game with two try assists while prop James Tamou ran for 170 metres and Dallas Johnson produced 50 tackles.