'One of the toughest wins': Green lavishes praise

He played 162 games, 12 representative fixtures and has coached North Queensland in 159 NRL games but Paul Green had never seen a more courageous win than what his team delivered on Sunday.

Missing four of the cornerstones of their team through injury and Origin duty, the Cowboys had only 15 fit players at half-time of their clash with the Gold Coast at Cbus Super Stadium.

They hit the lead 10 minutes into the second term courtesy of a rampant Jason Taumalolo and never relented, repelling every Titans attack with desperate defence right up until the final frantic play of the game to win 6-4.

It moved North Queensland level with five teams on 12 competition points and just one win outside the top four and gave Green a new barometer for which to measure bravery.

"That was one of the toughest wins I've ever been involved in, as a player or a coach," Green said.

"We lost not only the guys to Origin but Matt Scott and Justin O'Neill to injury, two quality players.

"Some young guys were thrown in there and during the game we had some injuries so guys had to play out of position. In the end, we had a couple of back-rowers playing in the centres.

"Jason [Taumalolo] knocked out 80 minutes, Jordan McLean 75 minutes, it was just an enormous effort.

"They just kept turning up for each other, particularly defensively there at the end.

"It shows a lot of character and it shows that they care about each other and that they care about the club and the team.

The last six weeks we've shown a lot better resolve in defence

Cowboys coach Paul Green

"That's what makes you proud."

The win did come at a cost however with fullback Jordan Kahu suffering a shoulder injury that will sideline him for up to six weeks while winger Gideon Gela-Mosby suffered a fractured collarbone in trying to make a tackle four minutes before half-time.

Forward Corey Jensen lasted just two minutes before a head knock suffered while trying to tackle Titans prop Shannon Boyd ruled him out for the remainder of the game.

Green expects he'll be given the all clear to face Manly in Townsville next Saturday night.

With just one win from the opening five games, the Cowboys's season was teetering on the edge. Green admitted he was unsure how they would cope with the test of their character so early in the season.

"There were a couple of losses in there that worried me, in particular how we defended," Green said.

"The last six weeks we've shown a lot better resolve in defence. The form that we have shown in that period has been built off the back of that defence."

Green also provided an update on injured centre Justin O’Neill who has remained in Canberra for more than a week after emergency surgery on a ruptured spleen suffered in the round 11 win over the Raiders.

"He's still down in Canberra so he's not out of hospital yet but hopefully we get him back this week,” said Green.

“Everything went well, now it's just a case of letting the healing process take place. We'll get a read on him a bit later on."