Five things we learned from Leeds v Cowboys

Five things we learned from Leeds v Cowboys Written by PHIL WILKINSON, February 22, 2016

THE North Queensland Cowboys have added a new entry to their roll of honour, that of World Club Champions, following a 38-4 win over the Leeds Rhinos.

Here are five things we learned:

1. Fielding the same squad which beat Brisbane in the NRL Grand Final thriller last year, they were good value for the seven try-to-one victory.

“The boys deserve everything they get, we’ve achieved something special – we’re the World Club Champions now and we should be proud,” said Johnathan Thurston.

It was the fourth successive World Club Challenge triumph for an NRL club, following triumphs from Melbourne, Sydney Roosters and Souths.

2. THE winning margin was bigger to the other two results in this series (26 and 30 points respectively) but this was still the best of the three games.

Leeds, missing seven frontline players through injury, had a real dig early on and pocket-rocket Rob Burrow locked the score 4-4 at the break.

The Cowboys eased through the gears in the second-half to settle the contest but it was an entertaining, eventful game, soundtracked by the loud fans inside the historic Headingley ground.

3. IN 16 games for Leeds, Mitch Garbutt won three trophies. In his 17th, he was sent off.

The former Brisbane prop became the first player since Manly’s Ronnie Gibbs to be red-carded in a World Club Challenge, after lashing out at James Tamou in retaliation for a jab on Keith Galloway.

“That punch from Garbutt is an absolute belter,” said Sky Sports commentator Terry O’Connor, the man who famously traded blows with Gordon Tallis in the ’97 World Club Challenge.

4. JOHNATHAN Thurston proved a class act – on and off the pitch. After pre-match warm-up he spent time high-fiving fans and, during the game, presented kicking tees to supporters in the stand. He also scored one try and was heavily involved in North Queensland’s best passages.

He won the Graham Murray Medal as man of the match, in memory of the late coach of both of these sides. Murray’s widow Amanda presented the award.

If the Cowboys are to become the first team since Brisbane in ’93 to defend their title, they will again rely heavily on the three-time Golden Boot winner.

5. THE Cowboys’ triumph secured a clean-sweep for the NRL clubs in all three World Club Series matches – the same outcome as last season.

And with a 6-0 outcome since the expanded concept was introduced a year ago, it will inevitably raise questions about its future.

But Leeds CEO Gary Hetherington, an influential figure in the game, said: “It might be a number of years before Super League wins the World Club Series.

“If you look at the State of Origin, New South Wales had to wait eight years to defeat Queensland, but that didn’t stop interest as every year it was competitive.

“I’m not one of those who say if we don’t win it’s a waste of time.”

North Queensland Cowboys 38 (J.O’Neill 2, M.Morgan, K.Linnett, K.Feldt, L.Coote, J.Thurston, tries; J.Thurston 5 goals) beat Leeds 4 (R.Burrow try). Crowd: 19,778.

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