The Cowboys were impeccable at Fortress Townsville, dusting off the Bulldogs 36 zip in a dominant performance that showed us why they’re well backed to repeat last year’s grand final effort.

Perfect Cowboys could do no wrong

Nothing they did had any element of fluke – they were just faultless in everything they did. Early on in the game the Bulldogs had made 120 tackles compared to the Cowboys’ 54 – possession stats at full time were 60-40 to North Queensland, which equates to about 48 minutes with the ball compared to 32 for Canterbury. The Cowboys were slick in everything they did – they forced the error when they needed the ball and scored the try when the Bulldogs sniffed they were slacking a bit. Comprehensive.

Bulldogs: move on!

The Bulldogs don’t have many options after a thrashing like this: maybe they could dwell on it and let it get inside their heads, but that would be a detriment to their long term hopes. They have to just put it behind them, move on and get it out of their minds – a hit to their confidence like this game close to the finals could prove crucial in possible Cowboy meetings closer to the grand final, and that’s not good for any team to have on their mind against the defending premiers.

Big Bulldogs not effective without the ball

A criticism of the Bulldogs before we even got the season underway was that their forwards wouldn’t handle the new interchange regulations – while they have disproved this with flying colours, it wasn’t the interchange regulations that did them in – Jonathon Thurston was able to use his pinpoint kicking game to make them defend and defend until they tired: it’s hard for a forward pack to make inroads without the ball

Morgan back without a hitch

The commentators had said Michael Morgan would try to do his job and little else, gaining confidence in the injured knee and easing back in to rugby league. The commentators were very wrong about that, Morgan performing almost a straight swap for Thurston when the Cowboy captain went off with injury – there was no respite for the Bulldogs when Thurston went off with Morgan taking up the role of their tormentor, blowing out the score to 36-0.