The North Queensland Cowboys have returned to the winners circle with a tough 24-12 victory over a brave Gold Coast Titans side in Townsville.
The Gold Coast opened the scoring early as David Fifita showed his class getting on the outside of the defence and drawing in the defence before getting a pass out to Alofiana Khan-Pereira to score out in the corner. The Titans extended their lead after Tanah Boyd added a penalty goal to push the lead out to 8-0.
Disaster was striking for the Titans as they lost both Kieran Foran and AJ Brimson to injuries within quick succession that put pressure on the Gold Coast. The Cowboys attack was putting consistent pressure on the Titans defence who were holding it out and the North Queenslanders were denied by the bunker twice.
Just shy of the half time siren, Jeremiah Nanai got over after the pressure mounted on the Titans and some good work drew the defence in and put the Cowboys over.
Trailing by two points, the North Queenslanders had momentum and it was James Tamou turning back the clock when he was able to get the defence in two minds as he changed the direction of the attack and he was able to stroll through. Val Holmes converted from close range and the Cowboys hit the lead.
The pressure was then on the Cowboys defence but one play by Val Holmes took the ball out of the air and raced 100m away to score and extend the lead out to 24-12.
David Fifita was causing issues for the Cowboys defence alongside Alofiana Khan-Pereira and the pair combined again when Fifita again drew defence in and found the Titans flyer to score in the corner. The Titans had gained momentum and it grew when Jeremiah Nanai was sin binned for a dangerous throw tackle but the Gold Coast were never able to take full advantage despite the field position with some messy play.
It was messy play that gave the Cowboys their final match deciding try when a loose offload bounced off Tom Chester's head then his foot causing chaos at the back for the Titans who couldn't clean up the ball and Chester was just able to get to the ball first for a try. The conversion pushed the lead out to 12 and it was unassailiable late for the Gold Coast.
Next weekend, the Cowboys head to Sydney for a Sunday evening clash with the Bulldogs whilst for the Titans they get a much needed break with the bye and a chance to give some key injured players a rest.