Johnathan Thurston played a part in the match-winning try and scored one himself. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Johnathan Thurston played a part in the match-winning try and scored one himself. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Five things we learned from Cowboys' win over Knights

JOHNATHAN Thurston silences his critics and Knights sensation Kalyn Ponga proved a handful on his return from injury.

Here's the five things we learned from the Cowboys' 20-18 win over Newcastle on Friday night.

1. The suggestion that Johnathan Thurston has played a season too long is ridiculous. Thurston isn't the zippy Dally M genius of 2015 but he is still a match-winner. The North Queensland champion had a hand in three tries on Friday night and scored one himself to ignite a gutsy upset of the Knights. He is still giving everything.

2. Cowboys monster Jordan McLean came through unscathed in his return from a foot injury. Playing his first game in 16 weeks, McLean was gassed at times but ran with gusto, amassing 94m and 32 tackles.

Jordan McLean made his return from injury against the Knights. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Jordan McLean made his return from injury against the Knights. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

3. Gavin Cooper had the most bizarre night of his NRL career. For 77 minutes he was woeful, making three dismal handling errors and largely looking off the pace. But with the game on the line, Cooper was in the right place at the right time to plunge the dagger into the Knights.

Kalyn Ponga was strong on his injury return against his old club. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Kalyn Ponga was strong on his injury return against his old club. Picture: Alix Sweeney

4. Knights sensation Kalyn Ponga looked sharp in his return from a hamstring injury. The Maroons young gun wasn't at his electric best but he was still a handful, making eight tackle busts and running for 154m.

Justin O'Neill played one of his best matches of the season. Picture: Michael Chambers/AAP
Justin O'Neill played one of his best matches of the season. Picture: Michael Chambers/AAP

5. Justin O'Neill has had a nightmare season but he turned back the clock on Friday night. The premiership-winning flyer made a team-high 134m, three tackle busts, two line breaks and produced the grubber kick for Johnathan Thurston's 53rd-minute try.



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