It was more than a year ago that a very different looking Sydney Roosters side made the trek to Darwin for a unique NRL adventure – although they probably wished they hadn’t bothered. Stung by a big loss to Melbourne a week earlier, the Cowboys shot out of the blocks thanks to centre Antonio Winterstein who crossed for a double within the opening 11 minutes to make it 12-0.
Five minutes later, Ashley Graham crossed for North Queensland’s third thanks to a perfect cut-out ball from Johnathan Thurston and when Kalifa Faifai Loa produced a miracle put-down on the opposite wing, the home side was keeping pace with the clock at 22-0.
But they weren’t done yet. A Thurston banana kick back in-field saw Matt Bowen scream through to collect the scraps and although that was the last of the first-half scoring, the game was already over as a contest at 28-0.
The Roosters finally kicked off their evening when Shaun Kenny-Dowall scored five minutes after half-time from a Mitchell Pearce bomb and they threatened a big comeback as BJ Leilua leapt highest to score from another kick a few minutes later. But after Jack Bosden had a try disallowed and Jake Friend was held up, the Cowboys made them pay as Jason Taumalolo barged across in the 63rd minute while three more tries saw them crack the half century with a dominant 50-12 win.
The Cowboys enjoyed 54 per cent of possession, ran for 1595 metres to 1037 and completed 30 sets to just 19 from the Roosters.
A total of nine North Queensland players topped 100 metres for the night, led by James Tamou with 160 metres and seven tackle-breaks. Thurston chipped in with four try assists while Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello ran for 163 metres in a losing side.