The North Queensland Cowboys will look to continue their winning streak and push towards a top-four berth when they visit the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday afternoon in a Queensland derby that could end the home team’s slim finals chances.
Gold Coast Titans Vs North Queensland Cowboys
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium
Date: Sunday July 30, 4:05pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Titans: 1. AJ Brimson 2. Alofiana Khan-Pereira 3. Brian Kelly 4. Jojo Fifita 5. Phillip Sami 6. Kieran Foran 7. Tanah Boyd 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Sam Verrills 10. Isaac Liu 11. David Fifita 12. Joe Stimson 13. Erin Clark 14. Jayden Campbell 15. Chris Randall 16. Klese Haas 17. Iszac Fa’asumaleaui 18. Aaron Schoupp 19. Jacob Alick 20. Ken Maumalo 21. Kruise Leeming 22. Thomas Mikaele
Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Semi Valemei 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Peta Hiku 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Coen Hess 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki 13. Reuben Cotter 14. Jake Granville 15. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 16. Jason Taumalolo 17. Sam McIntyre 18. Zac Laybutt 19. Kyle Feldt 20. Riley Price 21. Brendan Elliot 22. Mitchell Dunn
Referee: Todd SmithEmbed from Getty Images
The Cowboys have won a league-best six matches on the bounce, leaving them just two points behind the third-placed Warriors with a bye still up their sleeve. North Queensland’s defence has been the foundation of this winning streak, allowing an average of just 7.5 points over the past four wins.
Scott Drinkwater continues to push his claim as the game’s in-form player of the competition, with an astonishing 10 tackle breaks last week to go along with yet another try. For a team like the Titans that concede the fifth most points in the NRL, that can prove to be a huge problem come Sunday.
However it isn’t all good news for the boys up north, in a big blow for the Cowboys Jeremiah Nanai will miss 4-6 weeks after suffering an AC joint injury. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki will start in his place this week and the young tearaway has shown much promise to more than competently fill in.
Whilst the Titans forwards have shown great form led by the likes of origin stars Foutuaika and Fifita, they will still be missing their influential front row captain Tino Fa’asumaleaui who remains suspended. The forward battle should still be as intense as a heavyweight bout though, with the biggest worry for the Titans coming through the outside backs. In the last two months, the Cowboys have only failed to score at least 24 points once, and most of those points have come through the in-form backline led by its stars.
The Titans will be relying on their own stars of the spine, with Boyd, Brimson, and Verrill showing some better form in the last month of football. If the Titans are any hope of causing an upset, it will be off the back of those players stepping up, but they won’t be the most important players for the Titans.
Hulking edge forward David Fifita has had a career year and it’s punctuated by not just scoring tries – but creating them. On the Titans’ left edge, he has assisted in the largest number of try-scoring opportunities than anyone else in the team. Now refreshed after a long Origin series, Fifita seems primed to stamp his authority at home on Sunday.
It was too little, too late for the Titans last week as they trailed the Roosters 36-0 before making a charge in the final 15 minutes. Though mathematically they have the slimmest of hopes for the finals remaining, they have named the same 17 players for this week with a few positional changes. However, if last week is anything to go by, it could be a long afternoon for the Titans.
It seems like a David vs. Goliath battle, but it’s very hard to see a happy ending for the underdog in this one, even if that David is one David Fifita. It would be a brave tip to back against the Cowboys on their current streak, and it seems that even if Fifita steps up, Goliath will knock him down this round.
LAST TEN MATCHES
Cowboys 7, Titans 3.
Cowboys by 18 points.
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