Bowen's comeback 'just like old times' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bowen's comeback 'just like old times'

By Laine Clark 14/03/2009 05:18:21 PM Comments (0)

Few take a loss on the football field as badly as notorious competitor Johnathan Thurston.

But the North Queensland skipper couldn't hide his smile after the Cowboys' dramatic 19-18 NRL season opening loss at Brisbane on Friday night.

Sure he was feeling the pain after Broncos halfback Peter Wallace's 77th-minute field goal sealed the arm wrestle in front of more than 45,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium.

However, the sheer joy of watching his teammate Matt Bowen relish his first game since May 2008 appeared to provide ample compensation.

Indeed it was just like old times for the pair.

After they threatened throughout, the highlight came in the 57th minute when Bowen fed off Thurston to give the Cowboys an 18-14 lead.

The jury was out on whether the livewire fullback would ever conjure his best football again after undergoing radical knee surgery in 2008.

But Bowen's new knee appeared to work okay when he emerged from nowhere to snaffle up a clever Thurston banana kick and ensure some nervous moments for rookie Broncos coach Ivan Henjak.

"That's what he brings to rugby league," Thurston beamed after the match.

"Everyone had a smile on their faces when he played (on Friday night).

"It will probably take him a little bit to get his confidence back but we saw a bit of spark from him there which was good."

Someone who knows a thing or two about recovering from injury, Thurston believed the long layoff had given Bowen a new lease on life.

"Compared to last year it will be like a new signing having Matty back," Thurston said.

"It's just good to have him back on the park.

"I think every rugby league fan thinks it is great to have him back."

Well, maybe not Henjak in the 57th minute.

New North Queensland coach Neil Henry was clearly happy - so much so that he avoided the temptation to take his trump card off just in case Bowen had another trick up his sleeve.

"We had a contingency there if we were travelling okay to get him off but we needed him at the death - we were hoping to do something again," Henry said.

"We were happy to get 80 minutes out of him. He showed a bit of sparkle at times.

"He's a little bit off the pace in his anticipation.

"He's going to take a little bit to get into his game again.

"But his speed was there so he will grow in confidence."

Broncos skipper Darren Lockyer sounded like a man who had dodged a bullet by facing a recovering Bowen and Thurston so early in the season.

"I think Matty did really well after being out of the game for so long," he said.

"And with those two, the more games they play, the more dangerous they are.

"We saw glimpses of that (on Friday night)."

In the only concern for the Cowboys, backrower Luke O'Donnell - denied a 37th-minute try for a Matt Scott obstruction - suffered blurred vision and concussion and will be monitored during the week.

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