North Queensland fans had to wait an extra 40 minutes to see the return of Johnathan Thurston last night after a blackout delayed the start of the game.

The original kick-off time was 8.10pm, with stars Thurston and Matt Scott to make their much anticipated returns to the game after missing much of last season with injuries.

But as the Australian National Anthem was being played disaster struck.

A lightning strike from a storm some distance from where the Cowboys were playing Wests Tigers at Barlow Park in Cairns plunged the whole city into darkness.

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The players who were waiting in the tunnel waited on the field for 40 minutes as fans and players alike waited for power to be restored to Cairns.

Fans waiting in the stands for play to start turned on lights from their smartphones in an effort to light up the pitch - to no avail.

When power was restored and the lights came back on, the returns of Thurston and Scott weren't enough to over power the men from the Tigers.

The visitors eventually beat out the blackout and mother nature to pummel the Cowboys 30-16 after trailing 10-4 at halftime.