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PREVIEW: North Queensland Cowboys vs Gold Coast Titans

Saturday night at 1300 Smiles Stadium is a game that has become a must win for both sides.

The Cowboys have been forced to win so that they may get the double chance after the Broncos leap-frogged them into fourth with a win on Thursday evening.

The Titans have an even simpler equation. A victory for them secures their finals opportunity, a loss gives the Tigers a chance when they face up to the Raiders on Sunday afternoon.

The Cowboys will be without co-captain Matt Scott who broke a finger but should be right for the finals will be missing but he is replaced by the Polar Bear Ben Hannant in his first game back from his own injury woes.

A good game to tune up with as the Titans will be a tough opponent and if either team is to go deep into the finals, they will need to prove they have what is needed with a solid performance in this game.

Can the Titans win? With The team they are fielding they can beat anyone on their day, however, with their loss last weekend to the Panthers made their path harder.

They have named an extended bench, and it would not surprise many to see them select one of the older heads to try and lend some experience. Their youth has been a strong element to their success, but we have seen some of the downsides of the experience factor in recent weeks.

They are an exciting team and their future is exciting, and most will expect to see them into the finals next year regardless of how this season ends. Yes, they can win, but they are playing against a very experienced and professional side.

Can the Cowboys win? Along-side the Broncos and Storm, the Cowboys are the most favoured sides in the league for meeting in the last game of the season.

The team is close to the same 17 that was on the field for the main game last year and it is this stability that has made it so difficult for their opponents to break them down.

Their major errors leading to points have come from when they have been so aggressive and almost disrespectful to their opponents. When they dial it back to just under 10, they are crisp and can score through so many options that most teams are incapable of defending against all of them. They will break you down, and you will watch the tape and wonder why you are enjoying being beaten.

Who will win? At home, the Cowboys have faced the Titans twice and sent them back south without any points on the premiership table. Now the Titans will be up against a side fighting for a top four finish, close to full strength and looking at locking in the combinations in attack and defence required to successfully defend a premiership. If they are to do it, then they will not only shore up their rights to claim the last spot in the eight but may even put a scare in whoever has to face them in the first week of finals (it may even be a return journey).

Prediction: Cowboys 28 Titans 12.

1: Lachlan Coote, 2: Kyle Feldt, 3: Justin O’Neill, 4: Kane Linnett, 5: Antonio Winterstein,
6: Michael Morgan, 7: Johnathan Thurston, 8: Scott Bolton, 9: Jake Granville, 10: James Tamou,
11: Gavin Cooper, 12: Ethan Lowe, 13: Jason Taumalolo.
Interchange: 14: Rory Kostjasyn, 15: Coen Hess, 16: Patrick Kaufusi, 17: Ben Hannant.

Coach: Paul Green

Gold Coast Titans:
1: Jarryd Hayne, 2: Anthony Don, 3: Josh Hoffman, 4: Konrad Hurrell, 5: Nene MacDonald,
6: Tyrone Roberts, 7: Ashley Taylor, 8: Luke Douglas, 9: Nathan Peats, 10: Ryan James,
11: Zeb Taia, 12: Chris McQueen, 13: Greg Bird.
Interchange: 14: Leivaha Pulu, 15: Ryan Simpkins, 16: Agnatius Paasi, 17: Nathan Friend,
18: David Mead, 19: David Shillington.

Coach: Neil Henry

IT Grad (at an old age), Cowboys and Blackhawks Fan

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