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Defence key in fourth home win

Coen Hess © NRL Photos
Coen Hess © NRL Photos

A second-half shutout and some memorable moments were highlights of the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys’ 20-8 Round 13 win over the Gold Coast Titans in Townsville tonight.

Trailling 8-6 at the break after dominating field position and possession, the Cowboys turned the screws in the second half as Coen Hess and Kyle Feldt tries complemented Michael Morgan’s first-half effort.

A seventh win of the year keeps the Cowboys well and truly in the eight and full of confidence heading into tough road games against the Eels and the Storm.

PROMISING

Enjoying over 70 per cent possession at one point, the Cowboys probably should have posted more than one try in the first half as the dogged Titans defence continued to turn the home side’s raids away.

But Michael Morgan’s 20th-minute score – where he burst through the line from a Ray Thompson delivery – was to be it for the home side going into the break.

By the end of the half, the Cowboys’ possession had dropped to 58 per cent – still a dominant stat, but to Gold Coast’s credit, they went into the sheds scoreboard leaders.

Crafty halfback Ash Taylor crossed in the 37th minute after splitting the Cowboys up the middle with a pass then backing up, while he also added a 40th-minute penalty for that 8-6 lead.

OWN WORST ENEMY

Last plays were again a problem for the Cowboys in the first 40.

Lachlan Coote kicked out on the full on one occasion, too many kicks went straight to Titans players and there was a hint of desperation at times at the end of sets.

There were also some uncharacteristic errors from the hosts, a 71 per cent completion rate well below their standards.

MESSAGE

Coach Paul Green challenged his team to give the Titans no quarter in the opening eight minutes of the second half.

That they did, and two minutes after that period, 20-year-old battering ram Coen Hess barged over off a neat Jake Granville inside ball for a ninth try this season.

It was a good sign from the Cowboys, who responded well with a nice period of mistake-free yet entertaining football.

Questions were asked, offloads were thrown and when Kyle Feldt made a couple of money plays which led to the final score, a fourth home win was in the bag.

The first was a dropout that found touch – handing the team possession – while the second was a spectacular try in the corner, the Townsville product fending off a marker then squeezing the ball down in the corner.

Defence was also the key in the second half as the Cowboys kept the Titans scoreless.

Last-start against the Sharks, the Cowboys leaked 18 second-half points so Green would have been pleased with that aspect.

The team now set their sights for Darwin and a round 14 clash with the Eels, who in Round 9 handed the Cowboys a stern 26-6 lesson at 1300SMILES Stadium.

NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS 20 (Michael Morgan, Coen Hess, Kyle Feldt tries; Kyle Feldt goal, 3 pen. goals) def GOLD COAST TITANS 8 (Ash Taylor try; Taylor goal; pen. goal) at 1300SMILES Stadium. Crowd: 14,612.