Johnathan Thurston sent a shudder through the fans of 15 rival NRL clubs with a match-winning performance in North Queensland’s 16-14 pre-season win over Melbourne on a wet night at Suncorp Stadium.
In a testimonial match for Thurston and long-time representative teammate Cameron Smith, ‘JT’ produced a pinpoint banana kick with 20 seconds on the clock for Kyle Feldt to score the decisive try.
Thurston, who had not played since the second Origin game last year due to a serious shoulder injury, also scored a determined first-half try in a display that suggested none of his trademark brilliance and competitiveness had subsided.
The heavyweight clash – which doubled as a preview of TWL’s predicted 2018 grand final – proved costly for both clubs injury-wise, however.
Storm fullback Jahrome Hughes, who was deputising for an injured Billy Slater, dislocated his shoulder, while Cowboys No.1 Lachlan Coote left the field after just 12 minutes due to a hamstring complaint and centre Kane Linnett is facing a possible stint on the sidelines.
A head knock also ended Melbourne forward Joe Stimson’s night early.
But Thurston’s clutch play at the death surely overshadowed any potential setbacks for the Cowboys.