Rugby League

Cowboys entertain in dominant win over Dolphins

March 10, 2024 4:37 pm

[Source: NRL]

The Cowboys piled on seven tries in a 43-18 rout of the Dolphins to open their 2024 campaign in style at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

In their first game under the guidance of new attack coach James Maloney, North Queensland took full advantage of the Dolphins’ inability to defend late in tackle counts and on four occasions scored tries when they opted to run the ball on play five.

Outside of the clever decision-making of playmakers Chad Townsend and Tom Dearden, whose tactics were on point across the 80 minutes, second-year centre Zac Laybutt was the outstanding individual performer.

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The 22-year-old scored a brilliant opener on three minutes and laid on a classy assist for Kyle Feldt later in the half, with the right-centre spot made vacant by Peta Hiku’s off-season departure now looking to be his for the foreseeable future.

The final score wasn’t the only bad news for the Dolphins, with back-rower Connelly Lemuelu reported to have suffered a dislocated kneecap which is set to rule him out for an extended period.

While they were able to hit back through new recruit Tom Flegler after Laybutt’s early strike, Wayne Bennett’s side were never really in the contest once the Cowboys got on a roll and ran in further tries to Dearden, Jeremiah Nanai and Feldt.

Josh Kerr offered a brief reprieve with a try on 32 minutes, but Murray Taulagi’s effort, a fifth Valentine Holmes conversion and late Townsend field goal made it 31-6 at the break.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow literally kicked the ball to Heilum Luki for the Cowboys’ sixth, in a regrettable attempt to retrieve possession, while a penalty try – credited as a second for Laybutt – came 12 minutes from time after Jack Bostock was ruled to have pushed the centre off the ball and denied him a try.

Bostock got at least some redemption minutes later when he finished a scorching attacking play for the Dolphins, but it was too late to impact anything other than the final highlights package.