Cowboy Johnathan Thurston sets up a move in the NRL trial against the Gold Coast Titans in Mackay on Saturday.
Cowboy Johnathan Thurston sets up a move in the NRL trial against the Gold Coast Titans in Mackay on Saturday. Peter Holt

Stadium a winner at first NRL trial

MACKAY'S Virgin Australia Stadium was the centre of national attention on Saturday night as the stars of the NRL gave the venue its first major workout.

Titans captain Scott Prince and Cowboys superstar Johnathan Thurston gave the stadium the thumbs up after the Gold Coast won the NRL trial 36-28 in front of a packed house of 8000 fans.

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Prince said the atmosphere in the big crowd was awesome, while Thurston had praise for the stadium.

"It's a good field, actually," Thurston said.

"The hill gave it a really good atmosphere. It's an excellent stadium for a regional city."

Popular local band Chasing the Jeffrey belted out a tune to add to the buzz of the crowd, which built up to the big game with curtain-raisers in which the Skills Training Mackay Cutters whitewashed the CQ Capras 30-0, and the Cowboys Toyota Cup team got up by two points over the Titans.

Stadium executive officer Clinton Begg said consistently good feedback on the venue had been received from both teams, and from police on the crowd's behaviour.

While the crowd tested the stadium's facilities, notably food and beverages, Begg said improvements would be made for future events.

"It was the first time for such a big event and we're always going to learn from that," he said.


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