Bowen's return thrills fans, coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bowen's return thrills fans, coach

By Evan Schwarten 01/03/2009 01:17:52 PM Comments (0)

Matt Bowen hardly touched the ball as he made his return from injury in North Queensland's final hit-out of the NRL pre-season, but did enough to suggest his nightmare injury run was finally over.

The pint-sized sensation was a late addition to the Cowboys starting line-up for Saturday night's clash against Penrith in Cairns after the former Origin utility was given the all-clear by his surgeon on Friday.

Bowen, playing his first game since suffering a knee injury in round eight last year, helped the Cowboys to a 12-6 halftime lead before the Panthers fought back to see the game end in an 18-all draw.

The star fullback had few chances to do anything with the ball before sitting out the second half to rest his knee, coach Neil Henry confirming Bowen had emerged unscathed.

"We got a lot of confidence out of that 40 minutes and he should be right for round one," Henry said.

"He could have stayed out there for another 15 or 20 in the second half but it was just good to get him out there."

Despite some nerves, Bowen said he was thrilled to be back in a Cowboys' jersey.

"I was a bit nervous but I was excited at the same time, I was looking forward to it all week, I couldn't wait," Bowen said.

"I just wanted to have fun again and I thought I'd do that tonight."

The Cowboys started the match strong, crossing the line twice in the opening ten minutes, but were unable to maintain momentum.

Meanwhile, Henry now faces a difficult decision in choosing a five-eighth to partner captain Jonathan Thurston in the halves for the Cowboys' round one clash against the Broncos.

Both Travis Burns, returning after an interrupted 2008 season, and Warriors import Grant Rovelli put in impressive performances to leave the coach with "some headaches".

Burns played the opening 40 minutes before Rovelli came on for the second half after starting in the curtain-raiser.

"I thought Travis was pretty good in the first half and Grant Rovelli was very good in the previous game and then came out and did a few tidy things as well," he said.

"We're not a lot closer there, we'll have to have a look at the tape, there's not much between them."

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