A James Maloney masterclass has helped Penrith to a big win against the Cowboys in Townsville.A James Maloney masterclass has helped Penrith to a big win over North Queensland in Townsville, the Panthers comprehensively accounting for the Cowboys 33-14.
Maloney had a perfect night with the boot, nailing a field goal, scoring a try and setting up three others in a dominant display at 1300 Smiles Stadium.
The Cowboys’ talismanic halves combination of Michael Morgan and Johnathan Thurston looked strangely lost in comparison – with failed fifth tackle options and seemingly no answer to the Panthers attack.
North Queensland got off to a horror start – with Penrith scoring first points and losing Javid Bowen to a concussion from a high tackle, bringing Ethan Lowe in as a makeshift centre.
The Panthers kept piling on the punishment – with Maloney putting Viliame Kikau through a wide open hole to score their first, before scoring his own when a grubber pinballed off half-a-dozen players and landed back in his arms.
But the Panthers penalty count came back to bite them momentarily – when the referees sent James Tamou to the sinbin for repeat offending.
North Queensland made the most of Tamou’s absence, scoring through Kyle Feldt and going into the break down 16-4.
A monstrous run from Jason Taumalolo from the second half kick-off knocked Isaah Yeo out before he hit the ground, putting a finish to his night.
But two more penalty goals saw the Panthers extend their lead to 16 points.
Antonio Winterstein got one back for the home side but it wasn’t long before Waqa Blake scored after an aerial mismatch with Ethan Lowe.
Things only got worse for the Cowboys with Jordan McLean leaving the field with a foot injury.
A 72nd minute cutout pass from Michael Morgan put Kyle Feldt over for his second, but it did little to phase the Panthers who snared a field goal and scored one more try to finish the game 19-point victors.
Panthers coach Anthony Griffin was suprisingly understated about Maloney’s star turn.
“He did a really good job,” Griffin said.
“He really lifted … I thought he controlled the game brilliantly.”
Griffin said his side had lifted after last round’s blowout loss to Canterbury.
“We were disappointed with last Friday night, and we’ve had our injury problems – and to come up here and play like that was a really good reward for everyone,” said Griffin.
For Cowboys coach Paul Green, it was a simple lack of flow.
“You don’t lose your ability, you don’t forget how to play, it’s just finding your rhythm again,” said Green.