Cowboys conquer Titans to continue finals push
If North Queensland's Ashton Sims styled himself as Thor for the NRL's Superhero round, then Gold Coast's Nate Myles clearly saw himself as a condescending Zeus.
The Titans, who drew their name from Greek mythology, were thoroughly beaten on Saturday night by a Cowboys side wearing the Marvel Comic-licensed jerseys inspired by the Norse god of thunder.
The 28-8 defeat meant the Titans were headed for Hades, their finals hopes over.
"They're brothers, they're scary, and they have a hammer," Titans captain Myles told referee Jared Maxwell when teammate Paul Carter was involved in a dust-up with Ashton and Tariq Sims.
Ashton Sims had posed as the hammer-wielding Norse god for publicity photos. As a scrum packed a few minutes later, Myles was heard exclaiming: "He's Thor!"
It was just as well Myles retained his sense of humour; his side conceded 26 unanswered points.
North Queensland forward Gavin Cooper said after the game: "We had a couple of lunatics out here. Paul Carter and Basher [Ashton Sims], they might be out in the carpark shortly."
North Queensland found themselves 8-0 down nine minutes before halftime, then preceded to post two quick tries and snatch the lead.
Video referees were in the cross hairs once more after 14 minutes when Cowboys second rower Jason Taumalolo chased Johnathan Thurston's kick and wrestled with a couple of defenders before clearly touching down.
But video referees Steve Folkes and Steve Chiddy controversially ruled he had taken too long to make contact with the turf and chalked off the touchdown.
The Cowboys dominated territory and Kevin Gordon knocked down what would have been the final pass for a try on another occasion.
But when the Titans had some possession in enemy territory, they were able to do more with it. Looking imposing at five-eighth, Brad Takairangi bustled his way over from close range at 27 minutes.
Gordon, who had kicked an earlier penalty goal, made it 8-0 to the visitors.
But Thurston's little dab into the Gold Coast in-goal five minutes later was claimed by fullback Michael Morgan. Thurston's conversion brought up 1500 career points.
And Gavin Cooper - back from an agonising dislocated hip for his 100th first-grade game - exploded into the clear to score another converted try six minutes short of the break.
Thurston posted a bizarre try after halftime; Gordon spilt a kick fielded on his own line and managed to get a hand to it amid a confusing melee.
"He can't force it with his leg," Maxwell explained to Greg Bird. "Johnathan comes through and grounds it."
Winger Tautau Moga scored a simple try not long afterwards when Thurston's bomb was tapped down to him by Morgan.
After the colourful clash between Carter and the Sims brothers, Ashton Sims screamed out from a scrum: "You're running at me Carter."
Thurston added a goal on the bell for the eventual 20-point lead. The Titans' discipline in the closing stages was atrocious as penalty after penalty was conceded.
It was the Cowboys' biggest ever win over Gold Coast since it re-entered the competition, eclipsing a 34-18 result in 2009. Cooper told an interviewer at fulltime: "I was a bit rusty. It was a long 10 or 12 weeks."
North Queensland Cowboys 28 (G Cooper K Linnett T Moga M Morgan J Thurston tries J Thurston 4 goals) Gold Coast Titans 8 (B Takairangi try K Gordon 2 goals) at 1300SMILES Stadium. Referee: Gavin Badger, Jared Maxwell. Crowd: 14,487
Sydney Morning Herald