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Taumalolo powers Cowboys to big NRL win

North Queensland skipper Jason Taumalolo has done his talking on the field as the Cowboys bounced back with a comprehensive 26-6 NRL victory over Canberra.

Three unanswered tries in the second half to Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Kyle Feldt and Jeremiah Nanai propelled the hosts to victory as the error-strewn Raiders struggled to compete in Townsville on Saturday night.

It was a great response by Todd Payten’s side after their season-opening 6-4 loss to Canterbury.

And it was led by Taumalolo – the subject of much speculation about his relationship with Payten during the week – who rampaged through the middle on his way to 141 running metres and two tackle busts.

“Last week was all about obviously blowing out the cobwebs and trying to get the motor going and tonight I felt a lot better,” Taumalolo said after the win.

“And obviously with the outside noise it was a bit of a ‘poke the bear’ moment for me.

“I’m just building each week and hopefully I can improve with every round going into the next 25 rounds.”

The skipper was back to his bullocking best laying the platform through the middle as the Cowboys dominated the metre count 1407 to 841.

The only blight on their performance was losing edge forward Mitch Dunn to a suspected ACL injury when he went down without contact in the first half.

Canberra completed just 61 per cent of their sets as the Cowboys suffocated the Raiders on defence and dominated possession, something coach Ricky Stuart said they brought onto themselves.

“When you have less football, complete less sets and make more errors than your opposition it can be very hard to win. And we made it very, very difficult for ourselves tonight in that regard,” he said.

That issue was highlighted in the 55th minute, when Feldt’s kick return got the Cowboys valuable metres out from his own line as his side went the length of the field in their set.

On the fifth tackle Chad Townsend kicked to the left edge and Tabuai-Fidow soared over his opposite number to gather and break free, contorting through Hudson Young’s tackle to reach out and score.

The Cowboys were soon in again when Jake Granville’s sloppy dummy-half pass hit the deck and Peta Hiku had the presence of mind to kick the ball through and it sat up perfectly for Feldt to score his first try of the season.

Tom Dearden’s high kick on the next set then found a flying Nanai, with the 19-year-old leaping to gather and score under the posts to ice the game with eight minutes to play.

Their dominant second half was off the back of sustained pressure in the opening term as Murray Taulagi tipped-toed down the sideline to open their account in the sixth minute.

After only scoring four points in round one, the message was clear in North Queensland’s camp to take any points on offer, and they did with Valentine Holmes kicking two penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking.

But in the 31st minute the Raiders found a crack in the Cowboys’ defensive line as Corey Harawira-Naera fought through four tacklers near the line to score before converting.

That would be their only points of the night as the hosts held their opposition to six for consecutive games.

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