After scoring their first win away from home this season in round 19 against the Sharks, the Cowboys returned last week to make back-to-back victories in Sydney for the first time since the 2005 final series, by defeating the Bulldogs 20 – 12. Winger Antonio Winterstein continued his amazing try-scoring run last week, taking his tally to seven tries from the past six matches, scoring at least one in each game.
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With the Cowboys having scored more than 20 points or more in all bar one of their past seven matches, combined with their exceptional home record, Winterstein must rate a high chance to keep his streak in tact here. The Cowboys have an excellent 7-1 record playing at home this year – including wins over Roosters and Souths – and with the two away wins under their belt and four of their remaining six matches scheduled in Townsville, they are well placed to finish the season off in good style. Adding to their momentum this week will be the return from injury of Matt Scott.
The Titans fell to their seventh straight loss at home last week, losing to Parramatta 24 – 18. So desperate were the Titans to turn their home form around, the team actually went into “camp” the day before in an attempt to feel like they were playing away from CBUS Stadium. Coach John Cartwright though is going with basically the same side as last week with Dave Taylor still in the centres and David Mead the new face on the wing, giving the Titans plenty of speed in their back three. The Titans have only won two of their past ten matches both coming when on the road over Newcastle and the Rabbitohs as they will be again on Saturday, rank outsiders. The Cowboys record at home is much stronger than either of the above two sides and in their current form, will likely inflict more pain on the Titans.
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HEAD TO HEAD
The Titans enhanced their recent record over the Cowboys when the sides met this year back in round 4, registering an all too rare 13 – 12 win at home. It was the Titans fourth win from the past five matches against the Cowboys. That victory would turn out to be the Titans’ third in a total of five they won in the first six rounds of the competition, since then though, it’s been slippery slope down for the Gold Coast side and it’s hard to imagine how on recent performances, they’ll be able to increase their record against the Cowboys here. Led by Thurston and back to full strength, the Cowboys can pile on the points when playing at home and have twice this year broke the 40 barrier in home wins.
Nth Queensland Cowboys:
Michael Morgan, Tautau Moga, Matthew Wright, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Robert Lui, Johnathan Thurston, Matthew Scott, Rory Kostjasyn, James Tamou, Tariq Sims, Jason Taumalolo, Glenn Hall. Interchange: Ray Thompson, Scott Bolton, Ashton Sims, John Asiata, Sam Hoare
Ins: Matthew Scott. Outs: None
Gold Coast Titans:
Kevin Gordon, Anthony Don, James Roberts, Dave Taylor, David Mead, Brad Takairangi, Daniel Mortimer, Luke Douglas, Beau Falloon, Nate Myles, Mark Minichiello, Paul Carter, Greg Bird. Interchange: Matt White, Mark Ioane, Cody Nelson, Maurice Blair
Ins: David Mead. Outs: Kalifa Faifai Loa (knee, round 22)