Cowboys superstar Jason Taumalolo admits he “had a point to prove” tonight following mounting criticism directed at him.
North Queensland secured its first win of the NRL season after dominating the Raiders with a second half blitz to run away 26-6.
Taumalolo failed to have much impact during the Cowboys’ loss to the Bulldogs last week, playing limited minutes and switching from lock to prop.
But tonight Taumalolo ran for 161 metres from 14 carries, with 70 of those being post-contact, per NRL.com stats. He also busted through for two tackle breaks.
It was a monster statement from the 2015 premiership winner, who during the week came under fire from former dual code star Ben Te’o.
Te’o questioned just how long the Cowboys lock would remain at the club due to his restricted minutes and reported strained relationship with coach Todd Payten.
“Obviously it’s a result driven-game,” Taumalolo told Fox League.
“The more wins you get, the less people talk about you. We haven’t been getting any results in the last few years and with that comes a lot of outside noise.
“I came in today, even though a lot has been said, I had a point to prove coming in tonight.
“I was happy I could do my job for the boys.”
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NRL great Cooper Cronk lauded Taumalolo for inspiring his teammates with his carries early in the match.
“Taumalolo needs a big pat on the back for his performance … in his first stint [in the first half], his first seven runs were outstanding,” Cronk said.
“Talk about influence – backs against the wall, disappointing result last week, relationship with coach – Taumalolo didn’t worry about it.
“Every other Cowboys player gets around him and thinks they’re a little bit faster, thinks they’re a little bit stronger because their go-to man and captain in the middle of the field is actually taking it upon his own shoulders.
“I thought it was an inspirational skipper’s knock.”
Following a tight opening first 40 minutes, with both sides grabbing one try apiece, the Cowboys piled on three unanswered tries in the final 25 minutes.
Cowboys speedster Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow broke the match open in the 55th minute when he produced a moment of individual brilliance.
Stream the NRL premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now.
Tabuai-Fidow was competing with Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in the air when he took possession before charging through to get himself over the try-line.
The try to the 20-year-old fullback gave the Cowboys an eight point lead.
Then minutes later, Hudson Young was sin-binned, which opened the gates for the Cowboys to take advantage when Kyle Feldt crossed over.
Jeremiah Nanai’s try in the 71st minute was then the icing on the cake for North Queensland, who celebrated their first win at home at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
The win also ended a run of six straight losses at home.
It was the first loss of the season for the Raiders.
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