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Cowboys forward pack stands tough

NZN 4/03/2017 Rohan O'Neil

North Queensland have passed the first test following their their off-season forward exodus as co-captain Matt Scott and reigning Dally M medallist Jason Taumalolo carried the Cowboys past Canberra 20-16.

The Townsville club were left with two hefty holes to fill in their pack after James Tamou's defection to Penrith and the retirement of Ben Hannant but a strong showing from their engine room in round one will have fans confident for 2017.

Scott plundered his way through 166 metres from 13 carries while Kiwi wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo (257 metres) and promoted starter Scott Bolton (150 metres) also provided plenty of grunt.

The experienced trio were well supported by energetic cameos from Coen Hess and John Asiata as the Cowboys stood tall against Canberra's highly-vaunted pack.

After being hospitalised earlier in the week with a leg infection, Scott was typically solid but the Test and Queensland prop was quick to praise his teammates post-match.

"I thought with Boltsy and big Jase, we weren't really missing anything there in the front and the rotations seemed to work pretty well against a pretty big, physical pack," Scott said.

"I thought we really held our own there and as we get better with our executing and last plays we'll hopefully be tougher."

Coach Paul Green was also impressed with how his new-look engine room responded to the challenge put forward by a Raiders side boasting international stars Josh Papalii, Iosia Soliola and Shannon Boyd.

"A lot was said about their pack and the physicality about how they play but I thought our guys really did a great job for us," Green said.

"We have different players from last year so it's going to be different but I was happy with how we went there.

"It was probably a pretty typical round one performance, good without being great but there was some tough parts of the game where we were pretty good in."

Scott went on to make special mention of the herculean efforts of fellow off-contract star Taumalolo, and said he was more than capable of replicating his Dally M-winning feats from last season.

"He just picked up where he finished last year, particularly the start of the second half I thought he really came out with a strong mindset and put a dint in the line," Scott said.

"When he came back on towards the back end of the game I thought he was probably the difference there.

"Some of his carries were unbelievable and that just shows what he's capable of.

"His head is in a good space at the moment and if he continues to do that there's no reason he can't have another reason like last year."

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