Roosters 12 Cowboys 50
No argument ... Antonio Winterstein of the Cowboys fends of Mitchell Pearce. Photo: Mark Kolbe
THE margin was 38 points but coach Brian Smith stopped short of agreeing that his Sydney Roosters would have lost last night's game to a rampant North Queensland had it been played at Allianz Stadium.
It was 32° when the Roosters' transferred home game kicked off at Darwin's TIO Stadium and by full-time the Cowboys had bounced back resoundingly from their 42-18 loss to Melbourne last week with their biggest win against the tricolours.
Inevitably, Roosters fans turned their attention to the decision to surrender a home game to a similar tropical climate to the one Cowboys players deal with every day. And when it was put to Smith and captain Braith Anasta that they would have lost the game had it been held in Sydney anyway, Anasta said ''I don't know'' and Smith wasn't prepared to agree.
"There's an old thing that farmers say: if a bull had tits, it would be a cow," he said. "You can talk about that until the cows come home. We just didn't adapt. We had some guys who really, really struggled tonight who don't usually struggle, whether it's the humidity or whatever. The decision to come here and play the game is based on finance and also a bit of it is about promoting the game. Tough titties for us, we didn't handle it well enough. There's no blame game going on. We knew what we were in for. There's no doubt the conditions … they pretty much live in it and for us it's a three-day event. My understanding would be we need to come and live here to get used to this."
Roosters players, most notably prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, have used social media to comment on the heat since arriving in the Top End on Thursday and Anasta admitted if there had been fines for talking about the conditions, "there'd be a few blokes handing over some money''.
Aside from a brief revival after half-time on the back of tries to Shaun Kenny-Dowall and BJ Leilua, it was all Cowboys in front of 10,008 Darwinian fans.
Fullback Matt Bowen, centre Antonio Winterstein and late inclusion Jason Taumalolo each posted try doubles, while prop James Tamou's 160 metres with the ball had captain Johnathan Thurston and coach Neil Henry insisting he was ready for the Australian Test call-up that was yesterday being widely tipped for him.
"He certainly wouldn't look out of place," Thurston said. Anasta said of Tamou: "He was at the Roosters when I was there and I thought we were crazy to let go of him."
Thurston and Henry repeated their support of halfback Robert Lui, suspended over a domestic violence conviction. "The boys have been very supportive of him and we'll talk through that again," Henry said.
Thurston added: "We're very supportive of Robert and we're hoping that when he gets back into the club, he can train with us and so forth. I think the boys showed a lot of professionalism with the way they've handled it.''
Cowboy Ashton Sims was booked for striking new Rooster Jack Bosden.
NORTH QUEENSLAND 50 (M Bowen 2 J Taumalolo 2 A Winterstein 2 K Fai Fai Loa A Graham R Thompson tries J Thurston 6 M Bowen goals) bt SYDNEY ROOSTERS 12 (S Kenny-Dowall J Leilua tries B Anasta 2 goals) at TIO Stadium. Referee: Gavin Morris, Ashley Klein. Crowd: 10,008.