The Toyota Cowboys rallied superbly from a dismal first half to record a 36-34 victory against the Gold Coast Titans in their round four NYC clash at Robina tonight.
A solo try full of determination from dummy-half by hooker Josh Chudleigh, followed by a conversion by Alex Grant, inside the final five minutes rescued a win for North Queensland after they trailed 24-6 at half time.
It was almost the reverse of last year’s clash between the two teams at Cbus Super Stadium where the Titans came from a 16-point deficit in the second half to win by two.
An error-prone Cowboys, trying to end a two-game losing streak, had just 14 sets of possession in the first half compared to the Titans’ 23 and they only managed to complete just eight of them.
Almost as bad was their defence in the middle which allowed the last-placed Titans plenty of latitude and helped them to four tries in the opening 40.
North Queensland’s only four-pointer in the first half came from fullback Alex Grant, who was again impressive at the back, to bring the Cowboys level at 6-all.
After some stern words from coach Todd Wilson at half time, it was a completely different NQ team in the opening stages of the second 40, helped along by three straight penalties that allowed them to mount plenty of pressure on the Titans, who must have had memories of last week’s fade out against Canberra on their mind.
A tackle from skipper Jack Kelleher in the 44th minute started the Cowboys comeback.
His perfectly-timed hit on Titans fullback Jahrome Hughes sprang the ball free after he snared a high ball and interchange forward Halvor Harris was the first to the scraps.
Back-rower Corey Jensen rumbled over not long after and the Cowboys were back to 24-18 behind.
The Titans again kicked 10 clear when Jenan Wedderburn-Parish went on his own to score from dummy-half, but the Cowboys’ reply was quick with a great offload from Fijian Viliame Kikau setting up winger Scott Schulte to touch down out wide.
Grant’s conversion brought NQ within four with 19 to go.
Once again, the Titans responded, this time with a try on the final tackle to Deacon Fletcher to restore the lead to 10 but the Cowboys ended up having the final say via solo efforts from halfback Delayne Ashby (68th minute) and Chudleigh (76th), who starred in the fightback.
Kikau was placed on report for a dangerous tackle in the second half.