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The Gold Coast and North Queensland come into their lower-table shootout with plenty of reason to believe after brave displays against last season's grand finalists.

The Titans pushed the Roosters all the way before falling 18-12 while the Cowboys fell just two points short of getting the cash in Townsville against the Raiders.

And it was goal-kicking that did for both, with each match finishing two tries apiece and penalty goals providing the winning margin at Queensland Country Bank Stadium and the SCG.

Sunday's victor will gain a welcome break on both the vanquished and cellar-dwelling duo Brisbane and Canterbury.

The Rundown

Team news

Titans: Gold Coast will start 1-17 after Corey Thompson and Beau Fermor were the last two dropped from the squad. Sam Lisone returns from a shoulder injury on the bench in place of Sam Stone. Lock Jai Arrow has passed all his HIA protocols so far after a head knock last week and is expected to play. Jai Whitbread and Erin Clark were the two players left out 24 hours before the match. The Titans have won only one of their past 12 games at Cbus Super Stadium.

Cowboys: The omission of Shane Wright and Esan Marsters an hour from kick-off means North Queensland will start 1-17. Captain Michael Morgan returns from a shoulder injury at halfback, with Ben Hampton retained at five-eighth. Tom Opacic returns at centre with Justin O'Neill going to the wing and Murray Taulagi out. Clifford and Corey Jensen were the two players omitted on the eve of the match.

Josh McGuire is back from suspension at prop, pushing Francis Molo to the bench, while Jake Granville and Emry Pere have been called up on the interchange. Mitch Dunn starts in the back row with Shane Wright, Gavin Cooper and John Asiata all out of the side. Cowboys utility Ben Hampton has scored five tries from his past four games against the Titans.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Titans is number 1 Alexander Brimson
    Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
  • Winger for Titans is number 2 Anthony Don
    Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
  • Centre for Titans is number 3 Brian Kelly
    Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Tom Opacic
  • Centre for Titans is number 4 Dale Copley
    Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Connelly Lemuelu
  • Winger for Titans is number 5 Phillip Sami
    Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Justin O'Neill
  • Five-Eighth for Titans is number 6 Ashley Taylor
    Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Ben Hampton
  • Halfback for Titans is number 7 Jamal Fogarty
    Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Michael Morgan

Forwards

  • Prop for Titans is number 8 Moeaki Fotuaika
    Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Josh McGuire
  • Hooker for Titans is number 9 Nathan Peats
    Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
  • Prop for Titans is number 10 Jaimin Jolliffe
    Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
  • 2nd Row for Titans is number 11 Kevin Proctor
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Mitchell Dunn
  • 2nd Row for Titans is number 12 Keegan Hipgrave
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Coen Hess
  • Lock for Titans is number 13 Jai Arrow
    Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo

Interchange

  • Interchange for Titans is number 14 Tanah Boyd
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Jake Granville
  • Interchange for Titans is number 15 Jarrod Wallace
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 Tom Gilbert
  • Interchange for Titans is number 16 Tyrone Peachey
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Emry Pere
  • Interchange for Titans is number 17 Sam Lisone
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Francis Molo

Key match-up

Jamal Fogarty v Michael Morgan: Pressure will be intense for the halfbacks to show they can step up and deliver the killer blow. Both sides struggled to take advantage of their opportunities in round 12 and a decisive contribution by their playmakers could make all the difference.

Morgan is making his comeback from a lengthy layoff so his return should help the Cowboys in this area. North Queensland's kicking game, in particular, was poor against Canberra and they lacked last-play creativity when points were up for grabs.

Gold Coast's centre pairing of Brian Kelly and Dale Copley were responsible for their side's try assists against the Roosters.

Stat Attack

The Titans, as gallant as they were against the Roosters, need to clean up their act on both sides of the ball if they are to finish over the top of North Queensland.

The Gold Coast are No.1 for errors (154) and handling errors (129) while in defence they are tops in ineffective tackles (216) and No.2 for missed tackles (423).