North Queensland Cowboys v Gold Coast Titans Saturday, April 21, 7:30pm (AEST) 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville
It could be now or never for the Cowboys after slumping to their fifth straight loss for the season at the hands of the Bulldogs in Townsville last week. The pressure continues to mount on Johnathan Thurston and the murmurs get louder that he could have played a season too long. Meanwhile, the Titans were never a chance against the Panthers last week after suffering a horrific injury toll. Dale Copley and Nathan Peats will miss this clash, while Ryan James returns from suspension, and Jai Arrow has been named after overcoming back issues that ended his match early against the Panthers.
FormNorth Queensland have been in horrific form this year and have fallen to 15th on the ladder on the back of five straight losses. The Cowboys rank 14th in scoring and 12th in defence. They have not scored more than 14 points since Round 2. Gold Coast have been wildly inconsistent this year on their way to a 3-3 record and ninth on the ladder. They have conceded more points than any other team. They have sandwiched strong back-to-back wins with heavy defeats to the Dragons and Panthers.
Key MatchupJason Taumalolo v Jai Arrow: Jason Taumalolo saw an increase in his minutes last week and produced his best match of the season, running for 188 metres and breaking nine tackles. Unfortunately, the Cowboys didn’t get the result, but if ‘Lolo’ is at his rampaging best this week, the Titans could struggle to contain him. Jai Arrow is an early contender for signing of the year after his move from the Broncos to the Titans. He failed to finish the match against the Panthers as he dealt with back spasms. He’s a workhorse in attack and defence, and has become a valuable member of this Titans team, who will be responsible for limiting Taumalolo’s damage.
Stats That Matter– North Queensland are 1-5 ATS with a 3-3 total record while Gold Coast are 3-3 ATS with a 4-2 over record. – The Cowboys have won five straight against the Titans with four of those wins being by 12 or more. – North Queensland have won six of the last seven against Gold Coast in Townsville with all those wins being double digit victories. – Three of the last four matches have topped 48 points. – The Cowboys are 5-8 ATS when favoured by 8 or less at home. – The Cowboys are 4-8 ATS with a 9-3 under record at home after conceding 24 or more. – The Cows are 2-6 ATS after scoring just 12 points or fewer. – The Titans are 15-12 ATS away from Skilled. – The Titans are 6-3 ATS as a road outsider at night. – Since 2014 the Titans are a perfect 6-0 ATS on the road after losing by 18 or more when an outsider.
Final ThoughtsThe Cowboys have to win this, don’t they? They were embarrassed on their home turf by the Bulldogs last week, while the great JT had minimal impact once again. North Queensland have won six of the last seven against Gold Coast in Townsville and should bounce back here.
How It’s Shaping UpNorth Queensland by 4
Recommended BetsBest: North Queensland ($1.55) Value: North Queensland 1-12 ($3) First Tryscorer: Justin O’Neill ($13)