The North Queensland Cowboys continued to be the surprise packet of the 2022 NRL season with a comprehensive victory over the Gold Coast Titans.
North Queensland Cowboys 30
Tries: Tom Dearden (5), Murray Taulagi (19), Scott Drinkwater (31), Jeremiah Nanai (62), Heilum Luki (71)
Goals: Valentine Holmes 5 (7, 20, 64, 69, 72)
Gold Coast Titans 4
Tries: Jamayne Isaako (14)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
North Queensland Cowboys were looking to maintain their status as the best placed Queensland team in the competition this year against the Gold Coast Titans who were looking to improve on their two wins from six matches.
It was a fantastic start for the home side who capitalised on a Kevin Proctor penalty to launch an attack which saw Tom Dearden finish off a break down the sideline from Murray Taulagi for the opening score.
The Titans were on the board nine minutes later after Jason Taumalolo was penalised for taking AJ Brimson out on a kick chase. Two set restarts later and David Fifita found Jamayne Isaako on his outside for what would be their only points of the night.
Fifita’s move into the centres by Justin Holbrook was mixed in the opening half despite setting up the Isaako try. The Cowboys switched play at dummy half to the short side defended by Fifita with Scott Drinkwater kicking through for Taulagi to score their second.
Soon after, the Cowboys went close again after Fifita dropped a cross-field kick. In the next phase of play they looked to have scored but the video referee had other ideas ruling that Jeremiah Nanai obstructed Brimson in the leadup.
Nanai’s involvement ramped up towards the break. Despite making a mistake, he made up for it straight away by causing one of his own. From the scrum win, Drinkwater took the ball from lock and ran across field throwing several dummies on his way to scoring in the corner.
Erin Clark went close to scoring on half-time but was held up over the line by some solid Cowboys defence.
It was all the Cowboys at the break with the talking point around Fifita’s move into the centres backfiring.
Could the Titans launch a comeback in the second half?
HALF-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 16 Gold Coast Titans 4Embed from Getty Images
In the early stages of the second half, it appeared the Titans came out with a positive attitude despite the score line and applied some early pressure.
However, they were unable to convert much like the Cowboys who blew opportunities through Chad Townsend, and a breakdown of play after Peta Hiku found space down the sideline.
Nanai’s sin bin for a lifting tackle gave the Titans a huge opportunity to reduce the Cowboys lead. During that ten-minute period Jarrod Wallace himself was lucky to not suffer the same fate after a similar tackle on Reuben Cotter.
The return of Nanai coincided with the Cowboys breaking the half-time scoreline. Chad Townsend’s kick for Nanai to score with eighteen minutes to play looked to put the game beyond doubt.
A further penalty goal to Holmes, and Heilum Luki’s try nine minutes from full-time gave the Cowboys a massive 30-4 victory over their Queensland rivals.
Provisionally the Cowboys went to fourth place on the ladder with their fourth victory of the season and given their current form will eclipse their 2021 tally of seven wins.
The Titans didn’t look like a side who deserves to be considered a top eight chance with poor discipline and lack of direction at times.
FULL-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 30 Gold Coast Titans 4
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Jeremiah Nanai (Cowboys), 2 pts – Scott Drinkwater (Cowboys), 1 pt – Peta Hiku (Cowboys)
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