Tigers promising in Cowboys disappointment
A SLICK Wests Tigers spine has silenced a packed house in Cairns with a dominant 30-16 win, giving long suffering fans some hope of success in the Ivan Cleary era.
In stifling conditions at Barlow Park last night, new halves pairing Luke Brooks and Josh Reynolds appeared a long-establish partnership while the Cowboys failed to make inroads into a rock solid defence.
After a city-wide power outage delayed the game for 40 minutes, the Tigers started strongly and spent most of their time camped in the Cowboys' half.
Esan Marsters sparked the opening try in the 11th minute, offloading in a three-man tackle to Josh Reynolds, who took advantage of a right side overlap to put winger Corey Thompson over in the corner.
The Tigers continued pressing at the Cowboys' line and it was the great Johnathan Thurston who showed the first glimpse of his side's fatigue in the 20th minute.
Attempting to link with fullback Ben Hampton on his own 40m line, the legendary No. 7 only found grass and the ball bounced into the arms of Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, who raced away to score under the black dot for a 10-0 lead.
The clean attacking play ground to a halt right on halftime, when Thurston got his foot to an errant pass 30m out from his own line, kicked again, regathered and popped a pass to Coen Hess for a 10-4 lead.
Cowboys backrower Ethan Lowe took the conversion attempt from directly in front and hit the post.
But the Tigers' domination resumed immediately after halftime when young half Tyson Gamble sliced through a feeble Cowboys goal line defence to score in the 43rd minute.
Reynolds had drifted into hooker and his keen eye from dummy-half put Taane Milne through a gaping hole just three minutes later for another try down the right and an 18-4 lead.
The Tigers notched their third try in eight minutes when Corey Thompson popped up on the left side and stretched out for the line to score his second.
The Cowboys attempted to mount a comeback, with half Jake Clifford scoring a try in a solo effort to get it back to a 14-point margin before torrential rain tumbled down.
Ivan Cleary's only concern was winger Mahe Fonua, who was sin binned for dissent with 10 minutes remaining.
Cowboys utility John Asiata scored a consolation try in the 77th minute when he sold the Tigers defence a dummy and crashed over under the sticks.
The Tigers iced the game in the shadows of full-time when opposing winger Shane Wright spilled the slippery ball off the kick off right into the path of David Nofoaluma, who kicked ahead and dived over for his side's fifth of the game.