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Cowboys overcome the Knights in NRL

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/04/2017 Rohan O'Neil

Newcastle-bound fullback Kalyn Ponga has scored two tries in North Queensland's 12-point NRL win over the Knights on Saturday in Townsville.

The injured Johnathan Thurston was again sorely missed by the hosts but they fought back from being behind at half-time to prevail 24-12 at 1300SMILES Stadium and snap a two-game losing streak.

Teenage fullback Ponga bagged a try either side of half-time and an improved second 40 minutes saved the Cowboys' blushes against an injury-ravaged Knights side that suffered their sixth-straight defeat.

Cowboys coach Paul Green played down Ponga's impact on the final result, when questioned about the departing tyro's performance, but was happy to praise his side's efforts in bouncing back from last week's tough loss to the Dragons.

"It was a similar performance to last week but we just did it longer this week which was important," he said.

"Again in the second half we were a lot better and then when we were tested down on our line we managed to defend it, which we didn't do in the first half.

"All in all I liked the performance.

"It was an improvement on last week, which it needed to be; we were good for longer periods and we got the win."

The win strengthened the Cowboys' hold on sixth spot, while the Knights are bottom after just one win from seven starts.

North Queensland should have crossed for two early tires but Origin hopeful Coen Hess and Antonio Winterstein failed to convert.

Their early dominance did pay off when Gavin Cooper caught the Knights markers napping to dive over for the game's opening try.

Newcastle were down but not out and hit back on 17 minutes with a simple try to winger Nathan Ross and they struck again soon after when Brendan Elliot pounced on an errant Cooper grubber to sprint 90 metres and score a runaway try, against the run of play.

The Cowboys looked out of sorts in attack but Ponga darted over from short range in the 37th minute to cut the Knights' lead to just two points.

North Queensland started the second half much stronger and edged in front when Kane Linnett charged through some soft Knights defence.

The home fans had more to cheer when makeshift five-eighth John Asiata hit Ponga with a delightful ball for the young star to complete his double, before a late Kyle Feldt penalty goal completed the scoring.

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