The Bulldogs reaffirmed their standing as strong NRL contenders and sent North Queensland's finals hopes tumbling with a powerhouse 54-14 win in Round 22 of the 2006 season.

Prop Roy Asotasi led during the opening stages before Reni Maitua and Sonny Bill Williams took over to edge the Bulldogs closer towards a top-two finish in the competition.

The win took the Bulldogs to 32 points, six behind runaway leader Melbourne, and left the Cowboys (22 points) in danger of dropping out of the top eight should Canberra or Penrith win on Sunday.

North Queensland's woeful defence let it down for the second successive week, the Cowboys conceding 30 points in the opening half.

The onslaught continued after halftime with centre Andrew Emilio touching down for his second try of the night in the 46th minute following a brilliant flick pass from Hazem El Masri.

Emilio got the Bulldogs away to a dream start when he crossed in the fifth minute before the score doubled eight minutes later through a try to Maitua.

Maitua, targeted by the Cowboys in free agency earlier this year, brushed off five defenders - including representative players Luke O'Donnell and Mitchell Sargent - as he powered to the line.

Three more tries through Williams, Luke Patten and Willie Tonga in the final seven minutes of the opening half blew the score-line out to 30-0 and had pundits reaching for the record books.

THE Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will be out to forge an important victory when the North Queensland Cowboys visit ANZ Stadium on Thursday 11

Desperate to avoid a record defeat on home soil, the Cowboys responded to Emilio's second with two tries of their own in the space of three minutes.

Mark Henry, who scored a double last week, added to his career tally in the 57th minute while Ashley Graham closed the margin to 36-8 with a try shortly after.

North Queensland prop Matt Scott added a consolation try in the 70th minute with Brent Sherwin sin-binned.

El Masri's try in the 75th minute and nine goals handed him a tally of 22 points for the game while Trent Cutler's four pointer with two minutes remaining pushed the Bulldogs past the half-century.

Bulldogs 54 (Emelio 2, Williams 2, Cutler, Patten, Maitua, Tonga, El Masri tries: El Masri 9 goals)

def.

Cowboys 14 (Graham, Henry, Scott tries: Graham 1 goal)