Round 7: Cowboys v Titans preview
The lesser known QLD derby cranks up this weekend as a desperate Cowboys side takes on the middling Titans side, back to being the big attraction on the glitter strip after the Commonwealth Games left town.
Much like the closing ceremony of the commonwealth games, the Cowboys has promised a lot but fell flat on delivery, and this time, you can't blame Peter Beattie. Johnathan Thurston has played like a man that been in the league for a decade plus, not even the return of Lachlan Coote saved them, as they fell to the lowly Bulldogs.
Now they sit in 15th, saved by the winless Eels, and running out of ideas. One positive is the re-signing of coach Paul Green for a further three seasons which may inspire them - currently the Cowboys look a shadow of the side that swept us all on the magic carpet ride of a finals run. They need their big guns in both JTs, Morgan and Coote to find their rhythm against another side that has been up and down this season.
For the visitors - the last few weeks has felt like a traveling sideshow, as they took games to Queensland outposts which resulted in a two-game win streak before they were humbled by the Panthers in the west.
They head up to Townsville banged up with a series of injuries headlined by Nathan Peats and Dale Copley not being named this weekend. Although the key for the Titans, is finishing their sets and getting Ash Taylor to direct them across the park aided by the forward talisman, Ryan James, returning. They sit in 9th coming into the weekend, so being able to string some results together will be key to their chances of finals football this season.
Who to watch: I mentioned it earlier but the big guns for the Cowboys need to stop shooting blanks. That starts with Michael Morgan - the half that sparkled in the run to the 2017 Grand Final has been well down on output. No tries to his name and five try-assists combines with an average of 55 run metres, makes for grim reading - if he can attack the line on Saturday, the Cowboys may start looking more like the efficent machine that has been a perennial contender.
I hear it Reins down in Robinaaaaa. Well, Garth Brennan hopes so, Mitch Rein who takes starting hooker responsibilities this week in Peats absence. The hooker that has bounced around clubs in the last few years will relish the chance to impress, also much like Morgan, his running game opens space for Taylor and the forwards and if the Titans want to bank two more points. It needs to Rein runs for Mitch.
My tip: These are the kinda choices that leave tipsters in a cold sweat. The Cowboys have been abject this year while the Titans can choose when they turn up, so, something my dad said to me when there is this choice: go the home team. Cowboys by 2.