North Queensland skipper Johnathan Thurston says the Cowboys must learn to close out games better.

Johnathan Thurston says the North Queensland Cowboys are still lacking the ruthlessness needed to close out games.

The Cowboys were convincing in their 28-point win over Parramatta on Saturday, but still had a down period where they let the Eels back into the game.

The home side was cruising at 18-0 after 18 minutes but got “excited” by the lead and were walking in defence and not reaching their kicking options to allow Parramatta back to 18-14 at half time.

North Queensland didn’t concede again from there, putting on four tries of their own in the second half and Thurston said his side had learned the hard way as they let a 22-10 advantage go to waste against Manly a week earlier.

“It was (a) pretty impressive (win), but we need to learn from the back end of that first half and not get excited,” Thurston said.

“We failed to get to our kicks a few times in that first half and that’s what put us under the pump.

“I guess the pleasing thing is we learned from last week and we were able to close the game out.”

The win pushed the Cowboys up to 12th on the NRL ladder heading into the representative round break, just one win outside the top eight, and Test star Thurston said the highly rated Cowboys were showing what they were capable of after a slow start.

“We’re always confident in the ability of our team and playing to the structures,” he said.

“When we do that you can see what we can do but still as a team we need to learn from what we did and there’s still a few areas we need to improve on.”

Of particular improvement for the Cowboys is the continued rise of makeshift fullback Michael Morgan.

Morgan put in a try assist for Kane Linnett and bagged a four-pointer of his own to help the Cowboys in attack, but defensively Thurston said he was learning from his mistakes in just his eighth game in the position.

The Origin pivot said the fullback’s takedown of a flying Jarryd Hayne, who made a line-break in the 41st minute and was bearing down on the tryline, was a game-changing moment.

“It lifts the team definitely,” he said.

“When Jarryd makes the break, nine times out of 10 he’s going to do something about it and it was great to see Morgo had the confidence there to stop him.”