NYC NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v GOLD COAST TITANS
Date: 3.15pm, Saturday 2 August
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium
Live updates: twitter.com/nthqldcowboys
Referee: Tim Rutherford
Sideline officials: Nathan Cornick, Chris Nitsopoulos
Main game: 5.30pm
Cowboys: 1. Yamba Bowie 2. Samsen O'Neill 3. Lenny Magey 4. Akeripa Tia-Kilifi 5. Conor Carey 6. Ty Carucci 7. Cooper Bambling 8. Viliame Kikau 9. Josh Chudleigh 10. Patrick Kaufusi 11. Coen Hess 12. Corey Jensen 13. Jack Kelleher. Interchange: 14. Delayne Ashby 15. Andrew Niemoeller 16. David Munro 17. Ben Mathiou 18. Regan Greive.
Titans: 1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Brian Kelly 3. Jaiden Hawkes 4. Connor Broadhurst 5. Zac Spring 6. Christian Hazard 7. Kane Elgey 8. Francis Fafita 9. Deacon Fletcher 10. Mitch Sharp 11. Harrison Hughes 12. Anthony Colman 13. Jackson Clarke. Interchange: 14. James Iodice 15. Caleb Morehu 16. Shaun Hudson 17. Karl Lawton.
RECENT HEAD-TO-HEAD: There have been 13 Cowboys v Titans NYC clashes and the NQ boys currently hold an 9-4 edge in the head-to-record. In round four this year, the Cowboys were 26-4 down at half time at Robina before they produced an amazing comeback to triumph 36-34. In this corresponding game last year, Todd Wilson’s team thrashed the Coast 52-14. It was their largest winning margin of the season.
FORM GUIDE: The Titans may be in 15th place but they’ve hit a purple patch of form in the last month, winning three of their last four including a 36-26 victory against top four team Parramatta last weekend. Meanwhile, the Cowboys ended a five-game losing streak by downing Canterbury 46-20 at ANZ Stadium to move to 13th on the table.
HOME AND AWAY: North Queensland have only won twice at home this season in eight attempts and will be keen to improve on that disappointing record in the four matches they have left at 1300SMILES Stadium this season. Gold Coast have a 3-5 win-loss record on their travels.
KEY STAT: The Titans’ attack has been very good in their recent run of strong results. They put 60 points on the Canberra Raiders and 36 on both Parramatta and South Sydney.
WHO’S NEW FOR NQ: Queensland under-18s representative Regan Grieve is in line to make his return from a leg injury after being included on a five-man bench. Centre Akeripa Tia Kilifi finally gets to play his first home game after being away from Townsville for his first three Cowboys appearances. After making his NYC debut last week, Ben Mathiou is a chance to play his first home game.
COWBOY TO WATCH: Front-rower Patrick Kaufusi was sidelined for 19 weeks but that didn’t stop him from being a dominant figure for NQ in his comeback match last Saturday night. He had team highs in hit-ups (15), metres gained (157m) and tackle busts (6). The Cowboys love having their forward leader back with them.
TITAN TO WATCH: Five-eighth Christian Hazard, who hails from Toowoomba, is a full-time member of the Titans’ NRL squad but is currently playing under-20s football. On the Titans website he says that the Cowboys were his favourite team as a kid and Matthew Bowen was his favourite player.
THE COWBOYS’ FINAL SAY – COACH TODD WILSON:
Last week was a much-needed confidence boost after the close losses of the previous three weeks.
We were able to match the Bulldogs pack for size with Bill Kikau up front, the return of Patrick Kaufusi and the impressive debut of Ben Mathiou.
Akeripa Tia Kilifi brings size as well as creativity to our left edge and Yamba Bowie is starting to adapt well to the speed and intensity of the NYC competition.
The fast-improving Titans will be another big challenge this week with both their halves having impressive games in their last outing.
Our main focus will be around building resilience in defence by managing the momentum of their mobile pack.
Maintaining possession, creating and taking attacking opportunities and a strong kicking game will also be key factors.
The conditions will be warm, the track fast and the football frantic.
Saturday’s game should be a close encounter and gives our boys a chance to play at home again after a month away.