Another local derby is sure to deliver for fans when the North Queensland Cowboys play the Gold Coast Titans at 1300SMILES Stadium this Saturday.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Lots of noise has come out of the Cowboys’ recent performance.
- Has JT played one year too long?
- What has happened to that strong forward pack?
- Will the halves sort out their plays and understand their roles?
- Will Paul Green’s re-signing mean a new start for this pack or result in their sixth straight loss?
They are sitting 15th and will need to put wins together.
This pack played the big show in 2017 without two of their key bookends so they have what it takes to work themselves back into finals contention.
The Titans were brought back to earth last week after losing 35-12 to a firing Panthers squad. They still sit at ninth, and have the squad to start putting some wins together, but it seems that the injury curse on the glitter strip may have struck again.
Interchange prop Morgan Boyle was struck down before kick off after a head clash with Cartwright during warm up. Nathan Peats went down in the first half with a rib injury, while Dale Copley left the field late in the game with a hamstring concern. In-form Titans lock Jai Arrow also failed to return from a cork injury. Head knocks and concussion checks to Ash Taylor and Mitch Rein halted the Titans defensive line before half-time.
1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Ben Hampton, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Michael Morgan, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matthew Scott (c), 9 Jake Granville, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14 Te Maire Martin, 15 John Asiata, 16 Corey Jensen, 17 Ethan Lowe
The Cowboys are unchanged despite their home loss to Canterbury last week.
1 Michael Gordon, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Phillip Sami, 4 Konrad Hurrell, 5 Tyronne Roberts-Davis, 6 Kane Elgey, 7 Ashley Taylor, 8 Jarrod Wallace, 9 Mitch Rein, 10 Ryan James (c), 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Will Matthews, 13 Jai Arrow
Interchange: 14 Max King, 15 Bryce Cartwright, 16 Jack Stockwell, 17 Keegan Hipgrave
Phillip Sami shifts from wing to centre to replace Copley. Tyronne Roberts-Davis has been called up also. Mitch Rein starts at hooker for Nathan Peats. Ryan James returns from suspension at prop, pushing Max King to the bench where Keegan Hipgrave also replaces Ryan Simpkins. Lock Jai Arrow is named to return to the starting side.
This game will signal either the turnaround of the Cowboys – who started the season as premiership favourites – or a chance for the Titans to show they can trust one another and get back into winners circle.
For the Cowboys to win: throw out the playbook and just go out and have fun – something the Cowboys have forgotten how to do. Cowboys back-rower Ethan Lowe will hit the 100-game milestone.
For the Titans to win: no more teasing with good starts and bad finishes. This team has shown it can compete with its illustrious rivals but it’s no good doing it in spurts. Big games from halves Ash Taylor and Kane Elgey, against out-of-form duo Thurston and Morgan, could swing the result in the Gold Coast’s favour.
Key match-up: the battle of the playmakers will be huge! I am looking to the big men in these packs – Jason Taumalolo and Jai Arrow. They show what the forwards of the modern era are made of – acting as lock while boasting the size and stamina to play anywhere in the pack. Arrow is keen to secure a Maroons jersey and has been playing out of his skin. But will he have what it takes to compete against the 10-million-dollar man?
Head-to-head: played 19; Cowboys 11 wins; Titans 8 wins
Cowboys stat attack: the Cowboys have won their past five games against the Titans, who have not triumphed in North Queensland for six years.
Titans stat attack: centre Konrad Hurrell’s 11 errors for the season has him at the top of the list of all NRL players. The Titans have the worst defensive record after six rounds, conceding 171 points.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday 21st April
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville
WHO WILL WIN?
This will be a CLOSE affair and will come down to a battle of speed meets pack size.
Titans by between two to eight points.