Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston celebrated their careers in Friday night’s testimonial match at Suncorp Stadium. North Queensland beat the Melbourne Storm (their recent grand final opponents) 16-14.
This testimonial trial game was played in Brisbane’s torrential rain, with both sides still coming to grips with high intensity rugby league again. The spine of the Storm found winger Young Tonumaipea in the corner for the first try within seven minutes. The match was riddled with poor play-the-balls and errors, with the next try in the 33rd minute – Michael Morgan cross-field kicking to a flying Kyle Feldt, who miraculously caught the ball to tie the scores 4-all. Late in the first half Thurston produced a signature dummy to score and take the lead 8-4.
A string of penalties gave Melbourne plenty of possession in the Cowboys’ half after the break to have centre Curtis Scott bump off two defenders and level the score 8-8 in the 50th minute. Another try to Feldt off a well-executed set play through the halves had North Queensland back in front. The game trickled on with many substitutions, including Smith – who only played 50 minutes. Queensland coach Kevin Walters’ son Billy scored for the Storm in the 75th minute for a 14-12 lead. The Cowboys had the ball in their opposition 20 metres with two minutes left with a last play banana kick from Thurston finding Feldt on his edge for a 16-14 win.
In a night with many errors and a tough playing surface, Feldt was able to score an incredible hat-trick. The first try came from a difficult cross-field bomb from Morgan with Feldt leaping high in the rain to catch the ball with his fingertips. His next four-pointer was in the 56th minute with a crafted set to shift the ball to the right edge. The third – and most impressive – try came in the 79th minute from Thurston’s banana kick.
JT AND SMITH’S NIGHT
Thurston and Smith had mixed evenings. Smith was only on the field for around 50 minutes – when Melbourne looked at their best – but when he left the ground they lost their way. Smith had a few great touches close to the Cowboys’ line, engaging markers and putting in grubbers for goal line dropouts. Thurston had a slow start, particularly in defence, but he was able to match that with commitment and score a try at the end of the first half. Thurston clicked in the second half, setting up attacking set pieces while winning the match in the last minute with an instinctive curved kick.
It was a thrilling finish at Suncorp Stadium with Melbourne leading 14-12 with five minutes left. The ongoing errors gave the Cowboys one more set on their opposition’s line to finish the match. It was a fifth tackle option from Thurston with a pinpoint kick for Feldt to claim the win.
There were some significant injures – as expected in the wet – with stand-in fullback Jahrome Hughes going down in the 22nd minute with a shoulder injury. Joe Stimson found himself in an awkward position, was concussed and taken off the field. The Cowboys will be sweating on scans for centre Kane Linnett, coming off with a suspected torn pectoral muscle.
Tries: Kyle Feldt 3, Johnathon Thurston
Goals: Ethan Lowe 0/2, Kyle Feldt 0/1, Gavin Cooper 0/1
Tries: Young Tonumaipea, Curtis Scott, Billy Walters
Goals: Scott Drinkwater 1/1 Cameron Smith 0/2
Storm: 1. Jahrome Hughes, 2. Young Tonumaipea, 3. William Chambers, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Brodie Croft, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Tim Glasby, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Ryan Hoffman, 13. Dale Finucane, 14. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 15. Christian Welch, 16. Kenny Bromwich, 17. Brandon Smith, 18. Scott Drinkwater, 19. Justin Olam, 20. Joe Stimson, 21. Tui Kamikamica, 22. Patrick Kaufusi, 23. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 24. Billy Walters, 25. Ryley Jacks, 26. Louis Geraghty, 27. Matt Soper-Lawler (Sunshine Coast Falcons)
Cowboys: 1. Lachlan Coote, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Justin O’Neill, 4. Kane Linnett, 5. Antonio Winterstein, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. Johnathan Thurston (c), 8. Matthew Scott, (c) 9. Jake Granville, 10. Jordan McLean, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Ethan Lowe, 13. Jason Taumalolo,14. Ben Hampton, 15. Coen Hess, 16. Scott Bolton, 17. John Asiata, 18. Corey Jensen, 19. Te Maire Martin