NRL 2019: Damien Cook inspires Rabbitohs to victory over Cowboys

Bunnies hooker Damien Cook.
Bunnies hooker Damien Cook. Photo credit: AAP

New South Wales hooker Damien Cook has warmed up for State of Origin duty by inspiring South Sydney's 32-16 NRL 'Magic Round' win over North Queensland in Brisbane.   

But a head-knock cut short Cowboys hooker Jake Granville's Queensland audition in an injury-riddled round-nine clash in front of 34,564 fans at Suncorp Stadium.   

If Granville does get picked for next month's Origin opener in Brisbane, he was given a glimpse of what to expect on Sunday, thanks to Cook's heroics.   

Cook set up three tries and scored in the 50th minute, as the Rabbitohs (8-1) rumbled to their fifth-straight win, despite losing veteran back-rower John Sutton (ribs) and centre Kyle Turner (concussion).   

Granville was keen to impress Queensland coach Kevin Walters, with the Maroons' number-nine jersey up for grabs, due to injuries to Andrew McCullough and Jake Friend.   

He made an immediate impact when injected off the bench midway through the first half, helping North Queensland to cut Souths' early 18-0 lead to 18-10 by halftime.   

But Granville had to be helped from the ground in the 52nd minute, when he came off second best in a tackle.   

The Cowboys were also reeling from test prop Jordan McLean breaking down with a second-half knee injury.   

They still went down swinging, with Tom Opacic's 73rd-minute try ensuring some anxious moments for the Rabbitohs.   

But the Cowboys never really recovered from Cook's opening blitz.   

South Sydney jumped to an 18-0 lead after just 23 minutes, with Cook setting up skipper Sam Burgess (11th minute), Cameron Murray (20th) and Turner (23rd).   

It took Cook's season try-assist tally to 12 - he had a total of 10 in 2018.   

NSW hopeful Cody Walker also put his hand up before Origin, slicing through five defenders to score in the 45th minute.   

The Rabbitohs' pivot extended his season try tally to 10, along with 10 try assists.   

North Queensland have slumped to a 3-6 record. They have made the finals once in 11 seasons when starting 3-6, finishing seventh in 2004.

Wayne Bennett enjoyed just his third win in nine games at Suncorp Stadium as a non-Brisbane coach.   

AAP

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