It’s a shame, because the talent is evident and the south-east region of Queensland, where the majority of the population resides, is becoming increasingly desperate for a successful team in the NRL. Brisbane used to fill that role and, even with their slide, they may well return to the top echelons before the Titans get their act together.
None of this should detract from the Cowboys. If the Titans have been the biggest fizzer of 2022, then the Cowboys have been the nicest surprise. This was win number four from seven games and, given the way Todd Payten and his squad are building, there will be plenty more to come.
Scott Drinkwater has been an electric addition at fullback in place of injured Maroons Origin representative Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. He left Fifita grasping at thin air at one stage to score untouched and his form means Tabuai-Fidow, who brings even more speed and strike, must return in the centres.
Chad Townsend, for all the critics of that deal, has ended up being a perfect addition to the club and has helped Tom Dearden, who looked lost at the Broncos, turn into a consistent first-grade footballer.
Then there is the experience of Valentine Holmes, who adds a touch of class and some excellent decision-making in the centres, and the rise of young, skillful back-rowers like Jeremiah Nanai, who has already been mentioned in dispatches regrading an extended Queensland Origin squad.
Nanai has been playing 80 minutes most weeks and would have done so again if he didn’t find himself in the sin bin for a tip-tackle. He was put on report but a fine should suffice given the severity of the incident.
He made up for it by roaring through to pocket the high kick and score for his team, finishing off another strong night for a Cowboys side who are quickly dishing out some eggs to those pundits who had them pegged for the wooden spoon.
“Our defence has been a game-changer,” Cowboys captain Jason Taumalolo said after the match. “We’ve built our game off that and it’s been paying off.”
For the Titans, it will be another long week. Flick passes and long balls only win games in the NRL off the back of chemistry, organisation, trust and structures. They must learn that in a hurry if they are to salvage a campaign that has nosedived sharply over recent weeks.
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