Jack Harbidge previews Saturday’s round 13 clash between the Gold Coast Titans and North Queensland Cowboys. This is what we have to look forward to.
Gold Coast Titans
The Titans come into this weekend off the back of three losses, with their last win coming against the Warriors in round nine. Last time out the Gold Coast produced a very creditable performance against the Roosters. Despite losing, they held their own and kept the Roosters’ margin of victory low, despite copping a yellow card in each half. While the Roosters were somewhat understrength, the result should fill the Titans with plenty of confidence coming into this game.
North Queensland Cowboys
The Cowboys come into the game with a similarly dismal record: they are now winless in five matches and sit tied on points with the Titans. That said, the Cowboys have played four of the top five teams in their last five games, so a fixture against the Titans will likely come as a relieving spot for them. Last time out they lost a tight battle against the in-form Raiders, with only a Jarrod Croker penalty goal separating the two sides. They are certainly playing better than their record suggests.
Gold Coast Titans
The Titans remain largely unchanged, with the only difference from the side that played creditably in last week’s loss to the Roosters coming in the form of Sam Lisone returning from injury, with Sam Stone making way for the forward. Jai Arrow was doubtful and is listed to start at lock after concerns he may miss the game due to a HIA, but he has passed all relevant medical checks so far this week.
1. AJ Brimson 2. Anthony Don 3. Brian Kelly 4. Dale Copley 5. Phillip Sami 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Nathan Peats 10. Jaimin Jolliffe 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Keegan Hipgrave 13. Jai Arrow 14. Tanah Boyd 15. Jarrod Wallace 16. Tyrone Peachey 17. Sam Lisone 18. Corey Thompson 19. Jai Whitbread 20. Erin Clark 21. Beau Fermor.
North Queensland Cowboys
The Cowboys are boosted with the return of their captain, Michael Morgan, who returns from a shoulder injury in favour of Jake Clifford. With Ben Hampton being retained at five-eighth, Clifford drops into the reserves slots, while Tom Opacic comes back into the side at centre and pushes Justin O’Neill out to the wing. Jake Granville and Emry Pere are brought into the interchange, with Francis Molo also dropping into the bench slots as a result of Josh McGuire returning from suspension. Mitchell Dunn also starts in the back row with Shane Wright, Gavin Cooper and John Asiata all ruled out for the clash.
1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Tom Opacic 4. Connelly Lemuelu 5. Justin O’Neill 6. Ben Hampton 7. Michael Morgan 8. Josh McGuire 9. Reece Robson 10. Jordan McLean 11.Mitchell Dunn 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Jake Granville 15. Tom Gilbert 16. Emry Pere 17. Francis Molo 18. Shane Wright 19. Jake Clifford 20. Esan Marsters 21. Corey Jensen.
The Gold Coast Titans have only won one of their past 12 games at Cbus Super Stadium. The Gold Coast are also No.1 for errors (154) and handling errors (129), while in defence they are top in ineffective tackles (216) and second in the league for missed tackles (423).
BATTLE TO WATCH
Michael Morgan vs Jamal Fogarty
The key battle has to be involving the returning playmaker Michael Morgan, who comes into this off the back of recovering from a troublesome shoulder injury. The Cowboys’ general comes up against the best and fairest winner in the 2019 Queensland Cup, Jamal Fogarty, who actually scored his first points with an instrumental performance in the Titans’ last win (over the Warriors). Despite the plight of the Titans of late, Fogarty has continued to be a highlight in Holbrook’s side and should pose some problems for the North Queensland defence with his running game.
The Titans, however, do have one of the worst defences in the NRL (trailing only Brisbane in points conceded), so Morgan has the potential to have a field day on his first start back from injury. The Cowboys have also struggled with their kicking game recently, often opting for a conservative kick into touch on fifth tackle; Morgan should be able to improve their kicking options and consequently pile more pressure on at the business end. If Morgan comes back at his best, he should be the difference between the two sides.
Titans by four.
Date: Sunday 9th August 2020
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast