NRL Round 12: Titans v Cowboys Preview & Betting Tips
A Queensland showdown with two upset winners last round – the Titans host the Cowboys to finish Round 12.
Gold Coast Titans v North Queensland Cowboys – CBUS Super Stadium – 4:05pm
Titans punters may have been asking a single question after Gold Coast’s emphatic 36-18 win over fancied Manly at Lottoland – where in the world has this been all season?
Gold Coast looked nothing like the beaten side who limped to a disappointing loss to lowly Canterbury and instead resembled a swashbuckling attack who were relentless in marching up Manly’s turf. Tyrone Roberts was hardly a glamorous signing – unlike rep players Shannon Boyd and Tyrone Peachey who have since been benched – but the five-eighth has become the most important Titans player.
It’s amazing to think the ex-Warrington player is comfortably standing up halves partner Ash Taylor but that’s exactly what’s happening. Roberts is providing both direction and spark with the Sea Eagles powerless to stop him. Taylor has become the worst type of perceived halfback this season – “maligned” – but even he managed to roll back the clock with a sublime pass to set up Dale Copley in the corner. Copley is another player playing above his payscale, the winger scoring a hat-trick and showing the ability which once made him a promising Bronco and Roosters flyer.
Mitch Rein continues to keep their attack ticking over in Nathan Peats’ absence and it’s performances like last week which had the Titans rated a potential finals darkhorse in pre-season. Their problem though remains consistency and at home to North Queensland, anything but a win will see them undo their hugely promising Manly win. Coach Garth Brennan was attacked in some media circles last week when he decided to take the team ten-pin bowling instead of a scheduled recovery session but credit goes to the mentor with his side showing the most cohesion and unity in their 2019 campaign after their altered routine. Will the Titans deliver another strike or find the gutter? We’re about to find out.
In arguably their gutsiest performance of 2019, North Queensland caused a major boilover in their 22-16 win away to Canberra. The Cowboys backline has seemingly been cursed by injuries and they also lost their forward leader Matt Scott to a shoulder injury but was still able to find a way to squeeze out an impressive victory.
Justin O’Neill perhaps personifies both their curse and their bravery – the centre has been a tryscoring machine in 2019 with eight tries in eight games and while his first-half try seemed fairly innocuous, it later turned out the collision after scoring caused a horrific spleen rupture which left him in ICU less than 36 hours later. Fortunately, O’Neill seems to have avoided catastrophic damage and in such a scenario football becomes the last thing on anyone’s mind but it does mean yet another backline blow for the Cowboys. O’Neill joins Ben Hampton, Te Maire Martin, Enari Tuala and Nene MacDonald as unavailable – it’s a severe drain on their backs depth.
Tom Opacic though is emerging as a reliable tryscorer and unlike recent seasons North Queensland will avoid a significant Origin exodus – Coen Hess, Gavin Cooper and Jake Granville being overlooked for Queensland is a major win for coach Paul Green. It means a forward pack who – aside from Josh McGuire’s Queensland selection – resemble near-strength and could prove the difference. Few gave the Cowboys a sniff for their Canberra trip and now they’ve got a great chance at securing back-to-back away wins for the first time since their memorable 2017 finals run. The unlikely halves pairing of the world’s biggest five-eighth John Asiata and rookie halfback Jake Clifford will need to steer their pack around – and given this involves one Jason Taumalolo in outstanding form and free from Origin duties, sometimes it may be as simple as providing decent service to the Tongan wrecking ball and getting out of his rampaging way.
Key stats: The Cowboys had a memorable 26-12 win against Manly in their Origin-impacted 2018 match. The Titans meanwhile were thrashed 34-0 at home against the Broncos. North Queensland have the wood over Gold Coast, winning their last eight straight games. Tom Opacic has scored in three straight games.
Tip: Cowboys - $2.10* (Ladbrokes)
Best bet: Cowboys +2 - $2.10* (Ladbrokes)
Value bet: Tom Opacic anytime try scorer - $3.50* (Ladbrokes)