NRL 2022: NZ Warriors' old boys return to haunt former side as North Queensland Cowboys take huge victory

NZ Warriors' former charges had a decisive say in their old side's misfortune, as North Queensland Cowboys took a 48-4 victory at Townsville's Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

Both playing in Cowboys colours, Chad Townsend and Peta Hiku rubbed salt into their old side's wounds, involved in five of eight tries scored against the Warriors on Friday night.

Townsend scored a solo effort, to go with three try assists, while Hiku had one of his own as the Warriors failed to fire against the NRL's staunchest defence.

Peta Hiku scores against the Warriors.
Peta Hiku scores against the Warriors. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

Young five-eighth Tom Dearden scored a double, while Valentine Holmes kicked seven conversions and one penalty as part of an impressive display from the title-chasing Cowboys - spurred on after Penrith Panthers sealed the NRL minor premiership on Thursday night.

Defeat leaves the Warriors 13th on the NRL ladder, with two games left in their season.

An error from a short dropout set the Cowboys up for the first try of the night inside the opening 10 minutes, as Coen Hess went over Reece Walsh from the resulting penalty.

Walsh came under fire again soon after, as winger Murray Taulagi went over the top of the 20-year-old fullback to score the Cowboys' second.

The Warriors were granted a way back into the contest, when a Daejarn Asi bomb was batted back infield by Edward Kosi, as a Scott Drinkwater knock-on and a kick into the in-goal allowed Marcelo Montoya to grab a try of their own.

But another error from Walsh, spilling a high kick from Townsend, gave the Cowboys field position, before the North Queensland halfback slipped 19-year-old Jeremiah Nanai in to score.

Jason Taumalolo against the Warriors.
Jason Taumalolo against the Warriors. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

And to rub salt into the wound, another former Warriors charge scored the Cowboys' fourth try of the first half, as Hiku was on the end of a team move started by Valentine Holmes.

Down 24-4 at halftime, the Warriors' woes continued after the break, as five-eighth Tom Dearden was sent over to score by Townsend.

Townsend was in the action again, as a penalty against Montoya for a high tackle on Hiku allowed him to send Luciano Leilua over for the Cowboys' sixth try of the evening, with the score at 36-4.

Another effort from Townsend had the Cowboys in again, as a kick in behind was left by Dallin Watene-Zelezniak - who failed to spot Dearden behind him, as the 21-year-old bagged his first career double.

Tired of playing provider, Townsend then scored one for himself, kicking through and regathering his own effort for the Cowboys' eighth. 

Euan Aitken looked to have scored a late consolation for the Warriors, only for the Bunker to intervene and rule a double movement as the Kiwi side were unable to score a point in the second half.

While unable to overtake the newly-crowned Minor Premiers, the victory will serve as a perfect hitout for the Cowboys, leading into the NRL playoffs next month.

The Warriors meanwhile will face a trip to Penrith next week, before returning home to Mt Smart Stadium to face Gold Coast Titans in their season finale.

Warriors 4 (Montoya try) Cowboys 48 (Hess, Taulagi, Nanai, Hiku, Dearden 2, Leilua, Townsend tries; Holmes 7 conversions, Holmes penalty)