Cowboy Dearden buries 2021 NRL win hoodoo

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Handed a beer and a cowbell following North Queensland's drought-ending NRL win over St George Illawarra, halfback Tom Dearden knew the monkey was well and truly off his back.

Dearden had yet to taste victory with the Cowboys since arriving from rivals Brisbane mid-season, but a clinical display from the 20-year-old lifted his side to a 38-26 win in Rockhampton.

With a try, two line breaks, a try assist, two line-break assists, 162 metres and 17 tackles, Dearden made sure he wasn't extending his losing ways with the club.

But he says the lean run never played on his mind.

"Obviously, my record's not very pretty and it's been a while since I'd won a game, but I know I was doing a lot of the things right on the field and the coaching staff were happy with how I was competing," he said.

"I knew if I just kept getting at it and adding the little polishes to my game that the results will start to turn."

In their victory over the Dragons, the Cowboys registered just their seventh win of 2021 and their first since round 12.

While learning what it takes to grind out a win in his new colours, Dearden was also given an education into the club's culture.

"The boys got me on the cowbell so it was good to be able to sing our song ... I didn't actually really know the words," he joked.

"But it's awesome to be a part of that group and win our first game in a while."

While coach Todd Payten shined a light on Dearden's performance post-match, skipper Jason Taumalolo also had one of his best performances of the year finishing with a match-high 209 running metres.

Taumalolo, nursing a heavily strapped hand, was back to his bullocking best and will need to repeat his performance when the Cowboys face Manly in their final game of the year.

The 28-year-old has fractured his hands three times this season which has been a concern for the club.

Payten admits they'll analyse data and his approach to contact in their off-season review.

But a priority for North Queensland is finding the talent to pair with Taumalolo next year and recruiting a beefy forward as their last roster spot for 2022.

"We have an appetite to bolster our pack, but in saying that we need the right person," Payten said.

"First and foremost from a character point of view, and then how he's going to influence the way that we play and the way that we train."

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