Titans thrash Cowboys 28-10 in trial game
Missing Johnathan Thurston, North Queensland Cowboys were thrashed by an almost full strength Gold Coast Titans 28-10 in their NRL trial in Mackay on Saturday night.
Thurston will go into the 2013 NRL season with just one game under his belt after succumbing to the hand injury he suffered in the February 9 All Stars clash.
The test pivot was named on an extended bench but North Queensland coach Neil Henry opted to hand Ray Thompson the No 6 jersey.
The Cowboys later dismissed fears that trump card Thurston was in danger of missing the NRL season opener against the Bulldogs in less than a fortnight.
While the Cowboys looked disjointed without their playmaker, the Titans boasted a near full strength line-up lacking just Queensland Origin backrower Ashley Harrison (broken nose) and hooker Beau Falloon (knee).
The Titans got off to a dream start in front of a heavily pro-Cowboys crowd after winger David Mead ran almost the length of the field to score an intercept try in the first five minutes.
The crowd were on their feet again when Titans recruit David Taylor nailed Cowboys forward Dallas Johnson with the now banned shoulder charge and North Queensland scored soon after the ensuing penalty through Ashton Sims.
Winger Kalifa Faifai Loa scored after great lead-up work by Brent Tate and Ash Graham to give the Cowboys a 10-6 lead at the break.
However, the Titans - led by impressive halfback hopeful Albert Kelly - hit back hard in the second half, running in four tries to one including three in the final 10 minutes.
Cowboys halfback Robert Lui also had his moments in a scrappy display from both teams.
Titans prop Luke Bailey was promoted to the starting line-up for the trial, marking his first appearance in Gold Coast colours since tearing an Achilles in round 23 last year.