O'Neill at the double as Cowboys outclass Rabbitohs


North Queensland Cowboys' excellent home form continued as they hammered South Sydney Rabbitohs 44-18 to move top of the NRL on Friday.

The reigning premiers had kept Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons scoreless in their last two outings at 1300 Smiles Stadium, but were arguably even more impressive on this occasion.

Johnathan Thurston was typically influential, while two of the Cowboys' eight tries went to Justin O'Neill on his 100th NRL appearance as the Rabbitohs - who lost Greg Inglis to apparent concussion symptoms late on - suffered further disappointment following last week's derby defeat to the Roosters.

South Sydney welcomed back Adam Reynolds and proved competitive in the early stages, former Cowboys junior Chris Grevsmuhl cancelling out a Gavin Cooper try that had been superbly created by Jake Granville.

However, a solo effort from Thurston put the hosts back ahead, the three-time Golden Boot winner giving one defender the slip before diving on to his own grubber kick through.

O'Neill shook off some weak tackling to score his first try prior to half-time and North Queensland were firmly in control when Kyle Feldt produced a fine finish in the right corner six minutes after the interval.

The Cowboys then turned on the style with three further tries in the space of six minutes, courtesy of Ethan Lowe, Antonio Winterstein and O'Neill.

Thurston had a hand in the latter two scores and also put Michael Morgan through a huge gap either side of consolation tries for the visitors from Sam Burgess and the returning Reynolds.

Souths face another daunting trip to Brisbane Broncos next up and will hope for a positive update on the fitness of Inglis, who had to leave the field following a heavy hit from Matt Scott.