Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith cross paths for the last time in the NRL.
Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith cross paths for the last time in the NRL.

Smith wins final duel over old pal JT

A COOL and calm Cameron Munster has cemented his place as a Queensland half, after kicking his first NRL field goal to sink the Cowboys 7-6 in Townsville.

With Maroons coach Kevin Walters watching on, Munster showed one last time why he is the right man to replace Johnathan Thurston in the No.6 Queensland jersey, producing the match winner in a tough clash.

The game was tied up at 6-all when Cowboys fullback Michael Morgan failed to find touch, handing the Storm a set close to their try line.

With eight minutes left on the clock, Munster kicked his first ever field goal.

It was a moment his side desperately needed and a chance for him to show Walters how cool he is under pressure.

Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith cross paths for the last time in the NRL.
Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith cross paths for the last time in the NRL.

But it was also a moment that continued a season of pain for Thurston, Morgan and their Cowboys side.

North Queensland have now won just three of their first 12 matches and are heading to Sydney to take on Manly next week with what is expected to be a depleted side.

Matt Scott, Gavin Cooper and Morgan are all expected to be named for Origin on Monday, while young forward Coen Hess is also in the frame for a recall.

With Scott Bolton (rib) also in doubt, a defeated Paul Green said his club will have to do their best moving forward with the squad that's available.

A dejected Thurston after another narrow loss.
A dejected Thurston after another narrow loss.

He said it was like the team had forgotten how to win.

"We're just remembering how to lose games instead of how to win games," he said.

"I thought in our last month the effort has been really enormous for our blokes.

"Unfortunately we can't get a bit of a break and are stuck in our heads at times.

"You're seeing guys that you know have more ability ... they're second guessing themselves a bit."

They need to win at least nine of their next 12 games if they are the slightest chance of making this year's final series.

The pain was evident as the hooter rang, with Thurston lying flat on the turf.

Smith burrowed over for Melbourne’s only try.
Smith burrowed over for Melbourne’s only try.

For Melbourne however, the win was a much-needed one after a week of off-field distractions, following news on Tuesday the Broncos had approached Craig Bellamy to eventually replace Wayne Bennett as coach.

There is concern however for backrower Felise Kaufusi whose Origin debut is under threat.

Thought to be a certainty for the Maroons side, Kaufusi was put on report for dangerous contact on Matt Scott.

He appeared to target Scott's left leg - the one he injured last week - in a tackle and then pulled the leg out.

Scott declined to comment on the incident but said his knee was "okay".

 

Cameron Munster was superb for the Storm.
Cameron Munster was superb for the Storm.

 

Sam Kasiano also came under fire for a late hit on Johnathan Thurston in the first half.

Thurston passed the ball before Kasiano came in late, causing Andrew Johns to call for a lengthy suspension.

"It was a dog shot, it was a coward hit," Johns said on Channel Nine.

"That has to be knocked out of the game. Hitting blokes in the back after they've passed the ball should be a minimum four weeks suspension."

Darren Lockyer also said Kasiano should have been sin-binned.

MELBOURNE 7 (C Smith try C Smith goal C Munster field goal) bt NORTH QUEENSLAND 6 (K Feldt try J Thurston goal) at 1300SMILES Stadium. Referee: Gavin Badger, Matt Cecchin. Crowd: 16,003.

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