Jason Taumalolo was one of the stars for North Queensland in their trial win over the Titans. Copyright: Charles Knight/NRL Photos.
Michael Morgan looks set to be a shock selection at fullback for Round 1 in two weeks' time after starring in the Cowboys' trial win over the Titans in Toowoomba on Saturday night.
In a scrappy affair that was punctuated by penalties and errors in equal measure, the Cowboys showed greater polish at the attacking end of the field with the ball-playing of Morgan at the back an extra dimension that will have pleased coach Paul Green.
Following the season-ending knee injury to Lachlan Coote at the Auckland Nines, Green looked set for a selection headache to follow in the footsteps of Matt Bowen but a 60-minute display from Morgan which he capped with a try in the 75th minute will have gone a long way to easing his fears.
Zac Santo was bright when he was introduced for the final 20 minutes but the confidence shown by Morgan in an unfamiliar position should see him in the No.1 jersey for the season opener against the Raiders.
Although the Titans dominated the territorial battle in the opening stages it was the power on the edges of Tariq Sims and Jason Taumalolo that caused the Gold Coast defence repeated headaches.
Sims scored the opening try of the game in the 13th minute when he was the recipient of a Kyle Feldt tap-back when a Johnathan Thurston cross-field kick skewed off the side of his boot.
The Titans hit back courtesy of a Greg Bird try adjacent to the posts in the 21st minute but when Taumalolo charged onto a Thurston short ball 20 metres out, stepped off his left foot and scored untouched under the posts in the 36th minute the Cowboys took control of proceedings.
After leading 10-6 at the break, the Cowboys extended their lead to 10 points when Glenn Hall crashed over right of the posts in the 47th minute before Mark Ioane hit back for the Titans with a barging try under the posts, the fifth try by the forwards of the night.
Antonio Winterstein finally registered a four-pointer for the fast men when he scored in the left-hand corner from a Santo pass and when Morgan crossed in the opposite corner courtesy of a Thurston pass the Cowboys closed out a convincing victory.
Morgan, Thurston, Sims and Taumalolo were all good for the Cowboys while for the Titans Paul Carter looked dangerous at dummy-half, Albert Kelly showed plenty of spark when given an opportunity and Dave Taylor looked dangerous in a 60-minute hit-out.
Cowboys 28 (T.Sims, Taumalolo, Hall, Winterstein, Morgan tries; Thurston 4 goals) def. Titans 12 (Bird, Ioane tries; Sezer 2 goals) at Clive Berghofer Oval, Toowoomba. Crowd: 8532.