Titans undone by Cowboys rookies
FORGET the Wests Tigers' supposed 'big four', North Queensland have unearthed a 'special three'.
Three unique names, three special talents and three future stars: Coen Hess, Kalyn Ponga and Gideon Gela-Mosby have arrived.
Between them they scored four tries in North Queensland's 32-26 win the Gold Coast at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday night.
After being pumped by Manly last week and still missing Lachlan Coote (calf) and Jason Taumalolo (suspension), the Cowboys wasted little time making their mark.
In his first touch for the Titans, new recruit Dale Copley dropped the ball and the Cowboys made them pay after four minutes.
With Jake Granville stabbing the kick through the line, Ethan Lowe took a swipe, Tyrone Roberts an air-swing but neither could ground it so Johnathan Thurston did for his first try of the season.
Gifted back to back penalties, Thurston kicked his team ahead by eight after 10 minutes before an accidental off-side by the Titans piled on the pressure.
A repeat set later and Ryan James was penalised for a shoulder charge on Patrick Kaufusi which will come under scrutiny from the NRL's match review committee and Thurston extended the lead 10-0.
Copley made up for his earlier error, completing a backline play which saw Ryan Simpkins float a cut-out to the centre in his club debut.
Taylor nailed the goal from touch to trail by four.
With 10 minutes left in the first half, Roberts stepped up giving a short ball to Leivaha Pulu who offloaded back to the jack in the box in support.
The half turned hooker turned fullback levelled the scores and Taylor put them in front with a conversion off the posts 12-10.
After getting their bearings back, the Cowboys returned fire and it was Gela-Mosby in his NRL debut that did the damage.
The winger stepped two, ducked under an attempted tackle from Konrad Hurrell and pushed pass Kevin Proctor to become the eighth rookie to score on debut this season.
To add further insult, Ponga scored his first try in first grade, hitting a gaping hole off an inside ball form Thurston.
In a night where the rookies impressed, Hess turned Kane Elgey into a witch's hat as he steamrolled over the half.
While Elgey soldiered on, his teammate Agnatius Paasi picked up a shoulder injury and failed to return to the field.
Needing something special, Roberts delivered a perfectly times cut-out pass to Tyronne Roberts-Davis to score his second try in his third NRL appearance.
There was a contentious moment when Joe Greenwood was taken out by Michael Morgan while chasing a grubber and five plays later and off the back of a quick play the ball from Morgan, Hess monstered his way over the line with four defenders hanging off him.
It was a crucial moment which put the Cowboys ahead by 10 points.
Off the back of a determined run by Scott Bolton, Hess carried four Titans for the best part of six metres to push his way over for another try.
Hess now has nine tries in 13 games.
"It all comes down to the big boys getting quick play the balls," Hess said.
"Running off JT and Morgo is every backrower's dream."
Roberts played a hand in yet another try when Copley crossed for his second with five minutes left but Taylor was unable to convert.
Ryan James picked up a back issue late in the game and while the game was already won, Kyle Feldt spilt a bomb in the 80th minute for Daniel Vidot to score in his NRL return from the Super League.