Clinical Cowboys torment timid Titans

The North Qld Cowboys have run out convincing 22-12 victors over a disappointing Gold Coast Titans side in tonight's round 5 heritage encounter in front of a healthy home crowd at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

The opening 10 minutes of the match was spent with both sides completing their sets, punctuated by penalties, but the Cowboys were the first to get on the scoreboard through centre Willie Tonga. In a traditional Cowboy set-play, halfback Johnathan Thurston and Matt Bowen combined, with second rower Gavin Cooper running a perfect line as a decoy, giving Tonga the space he required to cross out wide. Thurston was again in the thick of the action five minutes later as the Titans pressured the North Qld line. On the fifth tackle, Scott Prince looked to chip into the corner, but the Cowboys halfback had other ideas, charging the kick down and racing 60m untouched to score out wide. As the possession, field position and penalties continued to mount, it was only a matter of time before the scoreboard would be ticking over in favour of the Cowboys again. In the 25th minute, second rower Cooper burst onto another Thurston short-ball and crashed through some feeble Gold Coast defence on their own line. Without doubt, the try of the first half would come in the shadows of halftime, with the usual suspects Thurston and Bowen at it again. Again, second rower Gavin Cooper terrorised the Gold Coast edge defence, running over the top of players, before finding Thurston who sent his fullback on an unimpeded run to the tryline, despite replays suggesting the officials missed what looked to be a forward pass in the lead-up. The 22-0 halftime score was an indication of the territory the Cowboys had along with a favourable penalty count and an almost faultless half in possession.

The Cowboys started the second half in a measured fashion and kept their almost error-free display of football intact, completing their sets of six. The Titans had the benefit of a strong breeze at their back for the second half, but the Cowboys appeared intent on keeping the ball out of play for as long as possible. The Titans, however, would continue to play some enterprising football and they were rewarded in the 59th minute with a good try to winger Steve Michaels. Second rower Mark Minichiello was integral in the lead-up, passing to centre Esi Tonga who raced down the sideline, before passing to winger Michaels who performed a perfect in-and-away on Matt Bowen to score Gold Coast's first try of the evening. The match wound down for the remainder of the match, with the second half punctuated by penalties and errors from both sides. The Titans were rewarded for their second-half perseverance in the shadows of fulltime when centre Esi Tonga completed the scoring. Running a blind-side play in the final minute, winger Steve Michaels found himself away down the western sideline, before sending Tonga on an unimpeded run to the line, to give the final score of North Qld 22 Gold Coast 12.

Next week, the Titans will have to dust themselves off and go again when they host the Wests Tigers at Skilled Park next Friday night, while the Cowboys host the Raiders next Saturday night.



Match Details
North Queensland Cowboys 22 defeated Gold Coast Titans 12
National Rugby League - Round 5 (Heritage Round) - Friday April 8, 2011 7:45pm
Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium
Referee: Ben Cummins and Tony De Las Heras
Video Referee: Tim Mander
Touch Judges: Paul Holland and Gavin Morris
Crowd: 13,651
Halftime: North Queensland Cowboys 22 Gold Coast Titans 0

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Johnathan Thurston (1 Try, 3 Conversions)
2 Points - Gavin Cooper (1 Try)
1 Point - Matt Bowen (1 Try)

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (22)
Tries: Matt Bowen, Johnathan Thurston, Willie Tonga, Gavin Cooper
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (3/4)

GOLD COAST TITANS (12)
Tries: Steve Michaels, Esikeli Tonga
Conversions: Scott Prince (2/2)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary It's HERITAGE ROUND tonight - both sides will be wearing retro strips from years gone by:

Cowboys Heritage v Titans Heritage
Antonio Winterstein into the run-on side in the centres for Will Tupou, while Scott Bolton makes his first appearance for the season, coming onto the interchange bench in place of Leeson Ah Mau. For the Gold Coast side, just a minor change, with Ryan James replacing Matt White, who drops back to the bench. Luke O'Dwyer will come onto the bench.
In the Toyota Cup curtain raiser, the North Queensland side ran out comfortable victors over the Titans, running away with the game 36-12.
1 min: And we're underway here in Townsville!
2 min: Tonga has the ball knocked out of his hands by Bodene Thompson as the Cowboys look dangerous. Six again.
3 min: Thurston tries to dribble a kick into the in-goal, but it's fractionally too big. 20m restart Titans.
5 min: Prince launches a towering bomb, but Bowen swallows it up, despite a strong Titans kickchase.
5 min: Bowen's kick on the fifth tackle aims for a 40/20, but he doesn't get the angles right and the ball runs over the deadball line. 20m restart Titans.
5 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Titans too long laying in the ruck after a dropped ball on the second tackle after the restart.
5 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Titans again laying too long in the ruck, and a bit of push and shove ensues, but amounts to nothing.
6 min: The Cowboys throw the ball around on the first tackle, but Thurston drops the ball behind him and the Titans knock the ball on. Scrum Cowboys.
9 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Scored by Willie Tonga. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
A perfectly executed try for the Cowboys! Bowen, Thurston and Cooper combined, and the Cowboys run a perfect second-man play which sees Tonga dive over out wide.
North Queensland Cowboys 6-0
11 min: PENALTY Cowboys from the restart, after Tamou appeared to knock the ball on, but Cummins ruled Titans forward Ryan James hit the Cowboys player high.
12 min: Thurston again dribbles a kick in behind the Titans defence and Capewell is left with no option but to bat the ball dead, despite replays indicating it may have been a tough call on the Titans.
13 min: The Cowboys try to replicate their first try, but Bowen's kick for FaiFai Loa is too big and the Titans work the ball away from their own line.
13 min: PENALTY Titans. Lifting tackle against Cooper.
15 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Scored by Johnathan Thurston. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston unsuccessful.
The Cowboys extend their lead! Prince attempted to kick in behind the North Qld defence, but the champion halfback charged the kick down and raced 60m to score under the posts.
North Queensland Cowboys 10-0
18 min: The Cowboys throw the ball around on the fifth tackle, but Thurston is tackled by Laffranchi. Changeover.
19 min: The Titans throw the ball around Harlem Globetrotter style themselves and may have scored a try! VIDEO REFEREE decision pending.
19 min: No Try. Titans knock on.
21 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Titans caught offside.
22 min: Thurston is caught with the ball on the fifth tackle as the Cowboys pressed the Titans line. Changeover.
23 min: Prince is caught on the fifth tackle this time in possession of the ball and the Titans will again be required to defend their own line.
24 min: PENALTY Cowboys. High tackle against the Titans.
25 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Scored by Gavin Cooper. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
Cooper crashes over out wide, running straight through some very feeble Gold Coast goal-line defence. Some danger signs for the Titans approaching halftime.
North Queensland Cowboys 16-0
27 min: The Cowboys continue their perfect first half, getting through their set after scoring points, and Payne's kick finds the Titans on the full.
27 min: PENALTY Titans. Cowboys laying too long in the ruck.
30 min: Gold Coast put a perfectly weighted grubber in behind the Cowboys defence and will get a repeat set after the goal-line dropout.
31 min: Zillman puts down a pass after some solid defence by the Cowboys on their own line.
32 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Titans again laying too long in the ruck.
33 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Titans ruled to have stripped the ball in a two-man tackle.
34 min: Thompson kicks in behind the Titans defence and the Cowboys will get another repeat set, although if the ball went through the hands the Cowboys would almost certainly have scored.
35 min: Bolton puts the ball down in a heavy tackle from Matt White and the Titans breathe a huge sigh of relief.
36 min: PENALTY Titans. Cowboys breaking too quick from the scrum.
37 min: Capewell drops the ball without a hand being laid on him! Prince drifted across-field and found Tagataese, who sent Capewell on his way to the tryline, but despite Thurston's close proximity, Capewell dropped the ball.
38 min: TRY
TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Scored by Matt Bowen. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
The Cowboys score a scintillating try in the shadows of halftime and blow the game wide open! Cooper burst down the edge, before finding Thurston who drifted across-field and threw what looked to be a forward pass that was missed by the officials and Bowen scored to extend the lead even further.
North Queensland Cowboys 22-0
40 min: Halftime here in Townsville and the North Qld Cowboys hold a commanding 22-0 lead over the Gold Coast Titans.
40 min: And the second half is underway here in Townsville. The Titans will have a 22-point deficit to make up, but will have the benefit of a strong breeze at their back.
43 min: PENALTY Titans. Thurston ruled to have gone a little high in making the tackle.
44 min: The Titans put a kick through on the last tackle, and Glenn Hall plucks the ball out of the air.
45 min: Thurston kicks behind the Titans defence, but the Gold Coast side get back to defuse the situation and in backplay Anthony Laffranchi is struggling with what looks to be a lower leg injury.
46 min: Bowen puts a pin-point kick into the back corner of the Titans in-goal and the chase is perfect, led by Bowen and Cooper. Goal-line dropout Titans.
48 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Cowboys try.
48 min: No Try. Thurston looked to bang the ball down behind his head as he took the defence on, but lost the ball attempting to score the try.
49 min: The Titans have lost the ball on the second tackle after the restart. Cowboys scrum.
50 min: The Cowboys through Johnson knock the ball on, despite replays suggesting it was perhaps a tough call on the home side.
53 min: PENALTY Titans. Cowboys caught offside.
54 min: The Titans throw the ball around attempting to register their first points of the evening, but winger David Mead can't hang onto the ball and it goes into touch.
58 min: PENALTY Titans. Cowboys caught offside.
59 min: TRY
TRY Gold Coast Titans
Scored by Steve Michaels. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful.
Michaels scores a wonderful Gold Coast try! Minichiello flipped ball to Tonga, who found Michaels keeping his width on the sideline. The winger then performed a beautiful in-and-away on Matt Bowen to score 10m to the side of the posts.
North Queensland Cowboys 22-6
62 min: The Titans get through their set of six after the restart, but Prince's kick on the last runs over the deadball line. 20m restart.
63 min: PENALTY Titans. Winterstein is reported for a high tackle on Michaels in what looks to be a careless, more than a reckless, high tackle.
64 min: Prince launches a bomb, which is taken well by Bowen, but in attempting to get around the chasing Gold Coast defenders, has lost the ball.
64 min: Prince launches a bomb, which is taken well by Bowen, but in attempting to get around the chasing Gold Coast defenders, has lost the ball.
66 min: The Titans try to run a set play, but front rower Ryan James has delivered a forward pass. Scrum Cowboys.
69 min: Bowen continues a solid performance, running down the clock as the Cowboys appear to be on the path to a convincing victory.
70 min: PENALTY Titans. Cowboys working the player over in the tackle.
70 min: Bailey drops the ball cold on the second tackle, which sums up the Titans night.
71 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Titans ruled to have pushed off the mark in the scrum.
72 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Titans moving before the tap-kick.
73 min: Sims pushes forward attempting to replicate his efforts from two weeks ago, but loses the ball in the tackle.
75 min: PENALTY Cowboys. Bailey ruled to have not played the ball on the mark.
76 min: The Cowboys rumble downfield and the kick from Bowen to the winger goes into touch. Titans scrum.
78 min: Friend throws a pass out of dummy half straight into touch.
79 min: TRY
TRY Gold Coast Titans
Scored by Esikeli Tonga. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful.
Esi Tonga scores a wonderful 60m try for the Titans, which is just reward for their second half effort. A blindside play saw Michaels race down the western touchline, before he drew Bowen and sent Tonga on a saloon passage to the tryline.
North Queensland Cowboys 22-12
80 min: Fulltime here at Dairy Farmers Stadium and the North Qld Cowboys have run out convincing 22-12 victors over the Gold Coast Titans.

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