The St George Illawarra Dragons were defeated 36-0 by the North Queensland Cowboys at 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville on Saturday.
Head Coach Paul McGregor had opted not to alter the line-up announced midweek leading into the encounter which meant utility Josh McCrone was omitted from the extended-bench prior to kick-off.
The Dragons had entered the fixture on the back of two successive victories, both of which had been tight contests with only two-points proving the difference at the end of each.
Yet, despite a strong opening period of defensive play, they found themselves trailing by a converted try come the 25th minute.
Cowboys second-rower Gavin Cooper had been the opening scorer with his four-pointer judged by the NRL Bunker to have lawfully been grounded over the goal line.
Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston subsequently converted to make it 6-0.
The Australia international later orchestrated his team’s second try of the stanza moments before the interval when his well-timed kick found winger Kyle Feldt on the right side.
The flanker simply glided across the stripe unmarked to make it 10-0 before Thurston added the additional two-points from his conversion.
The home side scored a further two unanswered tries after the interval with both prop Scott Bolton and centre Javid Bowen scoring before the hour mark.
Thurston’s two conversions blew the deficit out to 24-0.
The Dragons had mounted several attacking plays during the second period only to be denied each time by the home side’s defence.
The visitors had come closest to scoring during this period through winger Peter Mata’utia, only for the flanker to lose possession of the ball mere centimetres from the white stripe.
The Dragons were later forced to rue this costly mistake when both Fledt, again, and centre Justin O’Neill crossed the white paint in quick succession.
Thurston’s two conversions made it 36-0.
St George Illawarra Dragons 0.
North Queensland Cowboys 36. Tries: Feldt (2), Cooper, Bolton, Bowen, O’Neill. Goals: Thurston (6/6).