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Cowboys v Titans: Morgan sidelined; Hand outs Taylor

The Titans boast the only win by a Queensland team so far in 2021 and will look to entrench their north-of-the-border dominance against the Cowboys after disposing of Brisbane in round two.

Hyped on the back of their five-game winning streak to finish 2020 in ninth place and off-season recruiting class headed by forwards David Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Gold Coast stumbled out of the gate with an uninspiring 18-6 loss to the New Zealand Warriors.

But a dominant performance by their star recruits, including a trademark two-try performance by hard-charging Fifita, has put the hype train back on track as they head into the second leg of their Queensland double.

The Cowboys also turned in a much-improved performance against the Dragons, after failing to trouble the scorers in their opener against Penrith, but a lack of composure saw them fall short of victory.

Cowboys v Titans

The rundown

Team news

Cowboys: A late reshuffle in the backline with Valentine Holmes moving to his preferred fullback position and Scott Drinkwater going to five-eighth with Ben Hampton dropping out. Shane Wright was the other player to drop out and hour before kick-off.

Justin O'Neill has come off the reserves list to play wing in jersey 18.

Michael Morgan (shoulder) and Peter Hola were omitted on Saturday.

Second-rower Coen Hess suffered a burner injury against the Dragons but will play.

Murray Taulagi will replace suspended winger Kyle Feldt, who copped a two-week ban for his tackle on Dragons centre Jack Bird.

Payten elected to stick with Reuben Cotter at No.13 as forward leader Jason Taumalolo's (broken hand) replacement despite a spirited challenge from veteran Josh McGuire. Cotter was the team's Players' Player against St George Illawarra.

The Cowboys have won 10 of their past 11 games against the Titans.

Titans: Tyrone Peachey has been brought into the starting side at lock with Tino Fa'asuamaleaui shifting to prop and Moeaki Fotuaika to the bench.

Beau Fermor and Sam Stone were omitted an hour before kick-off.

A hand injury has sidelined five-eighth Ash Taylor for at least a few weeks. Tanah Boyd will make his second start at No.6 in Taylor's place.

Phillip Sami will continue to deputise in the centres with Brian Kelly (fractured hand) scheduled to return in round five. 

Herman Ese'ese and Sam McIntyre dropped out of the squad 24 hours before kick-off.

The Titans have not won in Townsville since 2012.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Cowboys is number 5 Valentine Holmes
    Fullback for Titans is number 1 Alexander Brimson
  • Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Murray Taulagi
    Winger for Titans is number 2 Anthony Don
  • Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Esan Marsters
    Centre for Titans is number 3 Phillip Sami
  • Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
    Centre for Titans is number 4 Patrick Herbert
  • Winger for Cowboys is number 18 Justin O'Neill
    Winger for Titans is number 5 Corey Thompson
  • Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 1 Scott Drinkwater
    Five-Eighth for Titans is number 6 Tanah Boyd
  • Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Jake Clifford
    Halfback for Titans is number 7 Jamal Fogarty

Forwards

  • Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Francis Molo
    Prop for Titans is number 8 Jarrod Wallace
  • Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
    Hooker for Titans is number 9 Mitch Rein
  • Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
    Prop for Titans is number 13 Tino Fa'asuamaleaui
  • 2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Mitchell Dunn
    2nd Row for Titans is number 11 Kevin Proctor
  • 2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Coen Hess
    2nd Row for Titans is number 12 David Fifita
  • Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Reuben Cotter
    Lock for Titans is number 14 Tyrone Peachey

Interchange

  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Jake Granville
    Interchange for Titans is number 10 Moeaki Fotuaika
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 Josh McGuire
    Interchange for Titans is number 15 Sam Lisone
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Corey Jensen
    Interchange for Titans is number 16 Jaimin Jolliffe
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Lachlan Burr
    Interchange for Titans is number 17 Erin Clark

Match Officials

  • Referee: Peter Gough
  • Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
  • Touch Judge: Wyatt Raymond
  • Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall

Last updated:

Key match-up 

Reuben Cotter v Tino Fa'asumaleaui: Jason Taumalolo's understudy Cotter already faced a massive challenge replacing the NRL's most-damaging No.13 and it doesn't get any easier this week when he is expected to hold his own against one of the game's rising stars.

Highly touted ex-Storm impact player Fa'asuamaleaui is relishing his elevation to the starting line-up on the Gold Coast, averaging 60 minutes a game while dishing out plenty of punishment in defence and imposing his will with the ball in hand.

Stat attack 

The Titans will have to clean up their act if they are to fulfil the high hopes fans and critics have for them this season. After two rounds they are ranked second for errors with 30 (just one behind leaders the Cowboys and equal with the third member of the Queensland triumvirate Brisbane) and second in ineffective tackles with 43 to No.1 Parramatta's 47.

What will be the result in this Telstra Premiership clash?

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