NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v GOLD COAST TITANS
5.30pm, Saturday 3 September, 1300SMILES Stadium
Referees: Matt Cecchin, Dave Munro
Review officials: Bernard Sutton, Luke Patten, Jason Robinson
Touch judges: Michael Wise, Rickey MacFarlane
Cowboys: 4th (14 wins, nine losses, two byes): 32 points
Titans: 8th (11 wins, 11 losses, one draw, two byes): 27 points
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6. Michael Morgan, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Scott Bolton, 9 Jake Graville, 10 James Tamou, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 Rory Kostjasyn, 15 Coen Hess, 16 Patrick Kaufusi, 17 Ben Hannant. Coach: Paul Green.
Titans: 1 Jarryd Hayne, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Josh Hoffman, 4 Konrad Hurrell, 5 Nene MacDonald, 6 Tyrone Roberts, 7 Ash Taylor, 8 Luke Douglas, 9 Nathan Peats, 10 Ryan James, 11 Zeb Taia, 12 Chris McQueen, 13 Greg Bird. Interchange: 14 Leivaha Pulu, 15 Ryan Simpkins, 16 Agnatius Paasi, 17 Nathan Friend (c), 18 David Mead, 19 David Shillington. Coach: Neil Henry.
Cowboys: Sam Hoare (knee/shoulder) – season; Matt Scott (finger) – Finals, Week 1; John Asiata (quad) – Finals, Week 1.
Titans: Eddy Pettybourne (leg)/ Daniel Mortimer (hamstring) – indefinite; Nathan Davis (leg)/ Kane Elgey (ACL)/ Matt Srama (ACL)/ Karl Lawton (leg) – season.
- History: Played 15 – Cowboys 8, Titans 8. These sides have split their previous eight games dating back to 2011.
- The Cowboys have won three of the past four matches between the sides, and are looking for a hat-trick of wins. The Cowboys also hosted the Titans in round 26 of the 2015 premiership, prevailing 42-12.
- The Cowboys’ biggest win over the Titans was that 42-12 win, while the Titans bested the Cowboys 37-18 on the Gold Coast in 2010 and 31-12 in 2013, also at their home ground.
- The Titans boast the top two average tacklers across the two teams, with Ryan James (39 per match) and Nathan Peats (38) leading the way.
- Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo averages 167 running metres per game, which is the second-highest in the comp, slightly behind Bulldogs skipper James Graham (171m).
- Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston continues to be among the NRL leaders in the goal-kicking stakes, with the veteran half hitting on 82 of 96 attempts in 2016, a strike rate of 85%. He is just behind the Knights’ Trent Hodkinson, who is converting at 86%, or 44 from 51.
- The Cowboys have completed 699 sets in 2016, the second-most in the NRL and four ahead of the Titans.
- The Cowboys have the second-highest home crowd averages in the comp. Across 11 regular season games in 2016, the Cowboys attracted 16,280 on average, more than 1,000 per game ahead of the third-placed Melbourne Storm. The Brisbane Broncos lead the way with a home crowd average of 33,405.
KEY MATCH-UP – ETHAN LOWE v CHRIS McQUEEN
Two hard-working back-rowers with stamina and strength set the scene for an enthralling battle in the forward pack.
Enjoying career-best form and having recently spent some time as a middle forward, Lowe was one of his team’s best against the Bulldogs and will be looking to continue the sort of high-level consistency that earned him a spot as Queensland State of Origin 18th man this year.
McQueen has tasted Origin football for the Maroons and is a true forward pack leader, and at 29, can be considered an NRL veteran with seven seasons in the top grade.
These men do a lot of unflashy but necessary things in a game – making loads of tackles, taking tough carries, running decoys – and it’s this work ethic and selflessness that makes them valuable members of their respective teams.
Cowboys coach Paul Green: “There’s healthy competition between all of our players … it’s good for the team and keeps everyone on their toes. They all need to know that they need to be in form.”
Titans fullback Jarryd Hayne on Johnathan Thurston: “He could go down as the best ever. He’s had a great career and achieved so much.”