With all eyes on the halfbacks as Thurston and Prince battled it out for Maroon representative honours, it ended up a split decision – with neither playmaker able to make his mark, with dropped ball and tight play the order of the night.
The Cowboys as always, had strong local support with over 18,000 locals out to lend support as the team tries to find it’s feet under new coach Neil Henry.
Coach Henry inking several changes prior to kick-off, with Travis Burns shifted from the halves to the centres and former Warrior Grant Rovelli being thrown the role of pivot for the night.
But for the home side, the changes didn’t seem to give them the combinations they needed, again spluttering in attack.
To make matters worse, the Cows continued to spill the ball and gift possession to the Titans – who happily made good use of the ball in ideal field position.
The Gold Coast getting good service from the likes of Chris Walker and newly re-signed rake Nathan Friend – both touching down prior to half time to give the Titans a 12-0 lead at the break.
Whatever Neil Henry said at the break, it worked soon after the game resumed – with much more focus seeing possession swing back to the locals, the Cowboys eventually getting over the line through a high Rovelli kick that was snared by Shannon Hegarty to touchdown.
With the weather closing in, the window for points was closing fast – the Cowboys job was made even harder when a penalty gifted by Carl Webb allowed the Titans to boot 2 extra points.
To their credit, the Cowboys continued to toil hard regardless of their struggles to find attacking cohesion. The North Queensland side narrowly denied a try in the 70th minute, but getting a late score through Thurston to make the scoreline a touch more respectable.
For the Titans, it was their consistent defence that got yet another win. Coach John Cartwright again paying tribute to the reads and heavy tackles that kept his side in the hunt throughout.
The win gives the Titans their third in a row, a tough ask in todays NRL and positions them nicely at such an early stage of the year. Wins away over Melbourne and Cowboys are a massive ask these days, the Titans facing the ultimate early test.
North Queensland skipper Thurston was visibly frustrated after being pinged at a crucial stage late in the match for having a hand on the head of Prince.
The shot at goal that followed enabled the Titans to skip ahead by more than 6 points – forcing the Cowboys to score twice if they wanted to win the game.
Thurston complaining at the press-conference that this kind of thing happens in almost every NRL game – the star half feeling the penalty was way over the top.
With a single victory from their first 5 outings, the Cowboys are sitting well at all and coach Neil Henry surely must be concerned about his sides problems in attack.
The North Queenslanders have always had strike power in attack, certainly in recent years – but it looks dead as a doornail in 2009.
Coach Henry fearing confidence is killing the once untouchable side.
The Gold Coast Titans now sit equal first on the NRL Ladder after 5 Rounds in 2009 and the Cowboys struggle only 2 places from the foot of the table.