It was meant to be the night Johnathan Thurston taught the young Roosters halves a lesson, but it was instead his left-hand man Lachlan Coote doing most of the damage in North Queensland’s 40-0 demolition of the Roosters on Thursday.
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The man making headlines for contractual reasons let his slick play do the talking at 1300SMILES Stadium.
With two try assists and a four pointer in the first-half alone, Coote owned the paddock early, getting huge help up the middle through James Tamou who made 109-metres in his first 24-minute stint.
The home side exploded out of the blocks with two tries in the first eight minutes but soon clicked back to second gear, leaving gaps up the middle and failing to make good on attacking field position.
Left-side centre Kane Linnett opened the account off some copybook second-man play after Thurston forced a dropout off the Cowboys very first possession.
The Roosters’ chances of staying in the contest seemed to be slipping by the second after Daniel Tupou’s knock-on led to a carbon copy play for Antonio Winterstein’s try, but the Cowboys’ combination of blown chances and lack of focus meant the next 25 minutes became a back-and-forth stalemate.
Lachlan Coote capped off a sparkling first-half with a slick solo effort close to the goal line to make it 18-0 just before half-time.
But the best play of the first half came from winger Kyle Feldt, who went back to retrieve a Roosters grubber kick deep in the in-goal and shrugged two defenders to make it back to the field of play.
One of the NRL’s most underrated players Scott Bolton muscled through Mitchell Frei and Jake Friend for the first points of the second-half, followed by another lull period of dropped ball and ‘oh so close’ moments before Michael Morgan found space on a shift left, powering through contact to slam it home in the corner.
The Roosters’ representative players were finding the slippery ball nearly impossible to hang on to, with uncharacteristic errors from the ever-safe Blake Ferguson, Dylan Napa and Aidan Guerra.
Standing deep, Morgan found the space he broke tackles and slammed it over in the corner.
At 28-0 with over 10 minutes on the clock, the visitors were just playing not to get blown out.
North Queensland piled on two more – a powerful charge from Jason Taumalolo and unmarked corner try for Kyle Feldt – before the siren sounded.
Furthering the Tricolours’ forgettable night, a pectoral injury has centre Dale Copley facing a potentially lengthy stint on the sidelines. Copley left the field early in the first half and did not return.
And on the stroke of full-time Roosters interchange Ian Henderson was being attended to by medical staff.
North Queensland Cowboys 40 (Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Lachlan Coote, Scott Bolton, Michael Morgan, Jason Taumalolo, Kyle Feldt tries; Johnathan Thurston 6 goals) defeated Sydney Roosters 0 at 1300SMILES Stadium. Crowd: 8,099. Half-time: Cowboys 18-0. On Report: nil. Injuries: Dale Copley (Roosters – Pectoral muscle), Ian Henderson (Roosters - leg).