A scintillating fullback display by AJ Brimson ignited a comprehensive 30-10 win for the Titans over an out-of-sorts Cowboys outfit on Sunday.
Brimson scored two tries, set one up and saved one in the first half at Cbus Super Stadium to celebrate his second game back from a back fracture in style.
Brimson had plenty of mates with none better than centre Brian Kelly whose brute strength and footwork at the line were a constant menace to the North Queensland defence.
The match marked the return of Cowboys captain Michael Morgan from shoulder surgery but he was far from his best.
Match: Titans v Cowboys
Round 13 -
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
The Titans forwards – led by Jai Arrow, Moeaki Fotuaika and Jaimin Jolliffe through the middle – played tough and with enterprise and that allowed halves Ash Taylor and Jamal Fogarty to thrive.
The Titans played with width and flair from the get-go and a sweeping left to right play involving Arrow, Fogarty and Brimson set up a cracker for Anthony Don inside five minutes.
Sustained pressure, combined with Cowboys errors, soon told and it was no surprise when captain Kevin Proctor crashed through after a bustling run on the left edge.
One touch passing from Proctor hands Brimson a double
The determination of Kelly saw him burst clear from 60 metres out and a flying Brimson loomed up on his right shoulder to do the rest and the Titans led 14-0 after 23 minutes.
Brimson made a desperation try-saving tackle on Justin O’Neill and followed it up on the cusp of half-time with a superb try, as well constructed as you would hope to see.
From close range, Taylor found Proctor who, in contact, popped a ball back on the inside for Brimson to slice and dice the feeble Cowboys defensive line.
Kelly had 45 post-contact metres in the first half and the Titans mentality was summed up by one of his runs where he carried several Cowboys defenders on his back for 15 metres.
That desperation came to the fore in stunning fashion after the break. A Taylor grubber was watched by Kyle Feldt as he willed it to go dead. Proctor had other ideas and leapt beyond the dead ball line and scooped it back for the ever-alert Kelly to pounce and score to make it 24-0.
Feldt made amends minutes later when Phil Sami got tangled up after a Morgan grubber and this time it was the Cowboys winger who was on hand to score.
The Titans invited the Cowboys back into the game with errors and penalties and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow sent O’Neill over out wide to cut the margin to 14 points.
Proctor hits and spins his way to a try
From there the Gold Coast regrouped and Taylor put the result beyond doubt with a face ball for Sami to score.
The win takes the Titans into 13th position on the Telstra Premiership ladder with eight competition points and the best placed of the Queensland sides with the Cowboys and Broncos both on six points in 14th and 15th respectively.
"It was important," coach Justin Holbrook said.
"I was told we hadn’t beaten them the last 10 times we had played the Cowboys.
"As Queensland teams we are not performing great but it is good to be top of the Queensland sides that is for sure. We want to get more wins.
"We have been playing really well the last couple of weeks and just fallen short. Today to back it up again was great to watch."
The Cowboys will be disappointed with their lacklustre performance which included 35 missed tackles, most of which were in the first half, and 15 errors.