Many predicted a comfortable win against a depleted Thurston-less Cowboys, but with many of our own missing, including our champion halfback for the very first time since 2010, this was no certainty.
Brett Stewart: Never really needed to get the Ferrari out of 3rd gear, but showed some wonderful thinking and magic hands in a much improved attacking back line both left and right side.
Jorge Taufau: The quiet one was his usual destructive self with every touch. 200 big metres and smart thinking with the lobbed pass in that first sensational try.
Steve Matai: Don't you just love Stevie? Dangerous every time the ball came his way, read Brett's inside ball with a super step and scorching burst to score a great try.
Jamie Lyon: Letter perfect MOM performance with his forever intelligent running, 300 steady kick metres in a virtual 5/8 role, and split second Johnny on the spot support for Richie's offload.
David Williams: Was it a full moon up there in Townsville? Ran like a man possessed setting up the first try, scored a cracker, and saved a couple too.
Kieran Foran: Played the left edge gaps beautifully yet again and slipped a wonderful try assist ball to a runaway Horo which cemented the win.
Peter Hiku: Was obviously never going to play halfback, but a good involved game out at right centre. Should have put an unmarked Wolfie away for a 2nd half try, but gets better with every chance on the field.
Glenn Stewart: Looked a lot better running straighter lines and belted the Cows with 35 bruising tackles. Hopefully every passing week will see a slow return to his former wrecking ball self.
Justin Horo: Mr Unsung 80 min hero needed an early shower, but not before smashing his way over for a critical try.
James Hasson: Solid performance though would have been good to see more game time than 35 minutes in his first starting role.
Brenton Lawrence: Seems a little less destructive in last couple of weeks but it was a night for the backs to shine under the stars.
Matt Ballin: Simply superb support for the scintillating opening try, and of course the usual relentless 48 tackles. Just how does he do it EVERY week?
Brent Kite: The Landcruiser is in fine form racking up 15 runs, 131 metres and 30 tackles in 58 minutes. Age shall not weary.
Jamie Buhrer: Worked hard for 30 tackles and 102 metres running the ball enthusiastically. A few needless penalties, and still second fiddle to Tom Symonds for mine, but every team needs depth like this.
Richie Fa-aoso: Smashed the defence like ten pins, spun around and offloaded to a flying Jamie to score, and that was just his first touch. Welcome back Richie! Like having a fanstastic new mid season buy.
Ligi Sao: Just a protected last 8 minute debut once the game was well and truly over, but great to see him blooded.
Nick Skinner: Looked unfashionably reliable in his short 19 minute stint.
Ok this is going to sound odd, but suddenly we looked way better in attack without DCE. Why? Simply because for the first time in ages there was no excruciating running around in sideways going nowhere circles that seem to inflect DCE and Glenn. Instead we attacked in waves of hard angled lines that punctured the Cows's sides at will. Result 6 cracker tries. No that's not to say our champion half is not every bit as vital as ever to our success, but surely this does show how we need to run the ball. Of course the brick wall defence of Roosters (twice dammit), Souths, Melb and Dogs was a world away in quality, but these last two weeks have nonetheless shown that hard, straight and fast angled running sets alight a back line the envy of any. Let's keep it going.
Richie Fa-aoso's long awaited return can also not be underestimated. Not only did he instantly provide the baldly needed bench muscle with Kingy and Joe long gone, and tonight big George missing too, but his fresh as a daisy presence proved how big a part he will be in our finals run.
A first half bout of errors, and a horror second half start with Stevie's balloon kick off, but nothing we couldn't and didn't erase.
What a relief to finally report an empty ugly department. Didn't notice the refs either. Nice.
Yes ok they had superstar Thurston out, plus origin stars Tate, Scott and Tamou, but hey no DCE, Watmough, Rose, Symonds and the long departed Kingy and Joe G made it no easier for us. A very pleasing to the eye attacking performance we've all been waiting many weeks to see. That murderously hard run of tough games and seriously narrow losses are well behind us now, we just need to keep building on all that hard work by slotting away these vitally consecutive wins for the next month. 2/2 is the right start. Can't wait for a priceless Sunday afto at Brookie next weekend, let's hope to see the place packed to the rafters.