The Cowboys produced a stunning second-half blitz to beat Melbourne 36-6 at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday night.
Four tries in 12 minutes just after half-time ensured the Cowboys would make it six victories on the trot - their best sequence since their premiership year in 2015 when they won a club record 11 straight.
The Cowboys made the perfect start when Tom Gilbert produced a superb solo try from 30 metres out in the 11th minute after the Storm had opted for a short dropout.
Gilbert took the ball on the full before beating Marion Seve and Harry Grant and taking Nick Meaney over the line with him for just the second try of his career.
Gilbert can't be caught
The home side had their second try eight minutes later when Tom Dearden jumped in to dummy half and delivered a short ball to Reece Robson who powered over from close range.
The Cowboys invited the Storm back into the game with some costly errors and when Felise Kaufusi crossed in the 32nd minute the score was 12-6.
Melbourne had a golden opportunity to level the scores on the stroke after half-time after getting a fresh set of six in close range but a forward pass out of dummy half by Brandon Smith saw the chance go begging.
Rampaging Kaufusi gets Storm's first
A spilled bomb by Dean Ieremia early in the second half gave North Queensland a chance and it was winger Murray Taulagi grabbing another try in the left corner with a spectacular dive.
Taulagi had collected a Peta Hiku pass on the bounce and then when he was confronted by Smith in cover defence he took to the air and flew into the corner with a one-handed put-down.
Nanai reaches out to pile on more points
Four minutes later the Cowboys were in again when Jeremiah Nanai continued his outstanding season with another try and Todd Payten's men were out to a 24-6 lead.
Scott Drinkwater continued the avalanche in the 52nd minute off a sweet Chad Townsend pass and the home side had piled on three tries in eight minutes.
Nanai made it a double in the 56th minute when Townsend put in a deft grubber and the young back-rower touched down for his 10th try of the season.
A penalty against Kaufusi for late contact on Drinkwater gave the rampant Cowboys another shot from close range and Coen Hess got over the line but was pulled up for a double movement.
Coates incredibly chases down and stops Taulagi
Wth 10 minutes to play, Taulagi was denied his second four-pointer when Xavier Coates showed great desperation to get underneath the Cowboys winger and deny him the try.
The Cowboys head to Sydney in round 12 to take on premiers Penrith in what shapes as one of the games of the season.
Match: Cowboys v Storm
Round 11 -
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
- Jesse Bromwich went for a HIA in the first half after a clash of heads with team-mate Tui Kamikamica. He passed and was able to return.
- A big blow for the Cowboys when Jason Taumalolo was forced off with a knee injury in the 27th minute and was unable to take any further part in the match.
- The Cowboys lost winger Kyle Feldt to a knee injury in the 16th minute after he was buckled over awkwardly in a tackle.
- The Cowboys have scored 30-plus points in five consecutive matches.
- Veteran No.7 Chad Townsend continues to lead the Cowboys in style with two try assists and one line break assist.
- Murray Taulagi was put on report for a dangerous tackle in the 59h minute.
- Felise Kaufusi (108 metres, four tackle breaks) and Kenny Bromwich (103 metres) were the only Storm forwards to run for more than 100 metres. Trent Loiero chipped in with 114 metres in 39 minutes off the bench.
- The Cowboys broke a 12-game losing streak in games against the Storm.
Play of the Game
Murray Taulagi picked up where he left off in Magic Round, flying through the air in the 44th minute to snare his seventh try of the season. The 23-year-old has been in sensational form in recent weeks as the Cowboys have hit top gear and his aerial work is as good as any winger in the game. Peta Hiku delivered the final pass and Taulagi still had plenty of work to do, throwing in a goose step and then a leap as Brandon Smith tried to push him across the sideline.
Taulagi the spectacular flies high
What They Said
"The main message at half-time was that we just had to be aggressive and go after the contest and we started really fast in that second half and we played some really good football. I'm really proud of the way they went about it in the second half. For a large part of that second half we had a couple of guys playing out of position and we had mainly all of our young guys on the park and they were standing up so it's good to watch." - Cowboys coach Todd Payten
Cowboys: Round 11
"We lacked cohesion, and we can handle that, but I thought there was lack of competing tonight which really disappointed me. The Cowboys are a good side, we knew that, they just out-competed us tonight. We can handle getting beaten or being outplayed but when we beat ourselves through lack of competing, through lack of doing the little things really well, that's cause for concern."
- Storm coach Craig Bellamy
Storm: Round 11
The Cowboys bounce out of one stern test straight into another one as they travel to BlueBet Stadium to face the Panthers on Friday night. Having stretched their winning streak to six, Todd Payten's men will get another gauge of where they are at when they tackle the premiers in front of one of the NRL's most passionate and parochial home crowds.
The Storm open round 12 on Thursday night with a clash agains fierce rivals Manly at AAMI Park. The last time the sides met was the opening weekend of the 2021 finals and Craig Bellamy's men racked 40 points in a dominant victory.