The North Queensland Cowboys have exacted their revenge on the Wests Tigers with a stunning 74-0 victory in front of a sold-out crowd at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville. Just six weeks after suffering a humiliating 66-18 defeat at the hands of the Tigers in Sydney, the Cowboys delivered a ruthless performance, scoring 13 unanswered tries to secure the largest winning margin in NRL history. This exceptional victory surpasses Parramatta’s 74-4 thrashing of Cronulla in 2003 and stands as the third-highest winning margin of all time, behind Canterbury’s 85-point and 80-point losses to St George and Eastern Suburbs respectively in 1935. Records were shattered as the Cowboys dominated the game, with seven tries scored in the first half and six in the second.
Under the guidance of coach Todd Payten, the Cowboys achieved their highest-ever score and victory margin, reaching the 50-point mark for the first time in Payten’s tenure. Valentine Holmes starred for the team, scoring an incredible 30 points and surpassing the previous record set by Cowboys legends Johnathan Thurston and Josh Hannay, who both had 24-point hauls in a single game.
Scott Drinkwater was another standout performer for the Cowboys, continuing his exceptional form with two tries, three try-assists, four line-assists, and two tackle-busts. Reflecting on the game, Drinkwater revealed that revenge had been a driving force for the team throughout the week, stating, “Toddy put up the scoreline around the training centre [of the game] at Leichhardt. It was very personal for us. It was something we were definitely not proud of, something we didn’t want to be a part of.”
Tom Dearden was also exceptional for the Cowboys, scoring a try and contributing with six tackle-busts, three line-assists, and a career-high four try-assists. Meanwhile, Murray Taulagi achieved his second career hat-trick, Valentine Holmes scored two tries, and Semi Valemei also collected a double.
The Cowboys dominated every aspect of the game, accumulating a staggering 2072 run metres compared to the Tigers‘ 902. Their relentless performance began in the 14th minute, following a Coen Hess break and a clever dummy by Dearden, resulting in the first try of the match. The Cowboys capitalised on their momentum, with Valemei and Leilua adding to the scoreline in quick succession.
Dearden’s skill and vision were on full display as he orchestrated a series of slick passes and set up multiple tries, including one for Leilua against his former club. Drinkwater benefited from Dearden’s brilliance, scoring his first try and adding a second shortly after in a seamless offensive move. The Tigers‘ struggles were further compounded when Alex Twal was sin-binned for a hip-drop tackle on Leilua, allowing the Cowboys to score two more tries before halftime, bringing their total to 50 points.
In the second half, the Cowboys continued their dominance with quick-fire tries from Valemei and Taulagi within the first 10 minutes. Taulagi further extended his try-scoring spree, crossing the line twice more, while Jeremiah Nanai joined in with a try of his own. In the final minute of the match, Jordan McLean added his name to the long list of try-scorers, securing a massive 70-point victory for the Cowboys.
This remarkable victory serves as a statement from the Cowboys, who have shown their ability to bounce back from a heavy defeat with an emphatic performance of their own. Head coach Todd Payten will undoubtedly be pleased with his team’s response and will hope to build on this momentum moving forward in the NRL season. With their record-breaking win, the Cowboys have sent a clear message to their rivals that they should not be underestimated.