NEWCASTLE Knights slumped to a seventh straight loss, going down 46-16 to a rampant North Queensland at Townsville on Saturday night.
Buoyed by the return of Origin stars Jonathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Justin O’Neill and James Tamou, the premiers were too big and two strong for the inexperienced Knights.
The home side led 24-6 at halftime and didn’t let up in the eight-tries-to-three triumph.
Scott carried the ball for a game-high 173 metres and Tamou 123 metres.
Thurston was influential but was outshone by five-eighth Ray Thompson and fullback Lachlan Coote.
Promoted for injured Queensland utility Michael Morgan, Thompson, who was playing his 100th game, scored two tries and made two line-breaks and Coote set up two tries.
In a horror night for the Knights, Nathan Ross sustained a calf injured and Danny Levi left the field with concussion. Both are in doubt for the clash against the New Zealand Warriors at Hunter Stadium next Saturday.
Ross produced one of the rare highlights for the Knights when he exploded between Thompson and O’Neill and ran 60 metres before sending Cory Denniss over in the left corner.
Trent Hodkinson added the extras to level the scores at 6-all after 21 minutes but from there it was all the Cowboys.
It was the fifth time this season the Knights have conceded 40 or more points.