Fifta turns fans’ jeers into cheers as banged-up Titans hang on to shoot down bumbling, fumbling Cowboys


David Fifita turned jeers into cheers in his first match for the Titans since signing with the Roosters in the best way possible.

The hulking forward scored a try, set up another and was a constant threat to North Queensland at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday as the home side tasted victory for just the second time this season.

They galloped out to a 20-0 lead by half-time and withstood an improved showing from the Cowboys in the second half to seal a 20-18 triumph.

Fifita was booed by the Titans fans when he took his first hit-up in the wake of his decision to trigger a release clause in his contract during the week to sign with the Roosters.

The fact that it took until the fourth minute on their third set in possession for him to touch the ball was yet another sign that the Maroons forward does not get involved enough at club level to justify his enormous pay packet.

But after he set up a try for second cousin Jojo Fifita and burrowed over from dummy-half for one of his own, the local fans were cheering him all the way. 

The Cowboys were dreadful and after winger Semi Valemei somehow decided to kick a bomb from Kieran Foran instead of catching it, AJ Brimson touched down four minutes from half-time to give the Gold Coast a 20-0 buffer at the break.

Apart from losing Phil Sami to a hamstring injury, the Titans were nearly flawless in the opening 40 minutes, completing 23 of 24 sets to show they are starting to improve rapidly after losing their first six matches under new coach Des Hasler.

David Fifita celebrates his first-half try. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The Cowboys showed more commitment in defence in the second half but still managed to shoot themselves in the foot at the attacking end.

Both wingers, Kyle Feldt and Valemei, dropped the ball over the line as they reached out to score although Harley Smith-Shields was lucky to just cop a penalty for the second near-miss when he shoulder-charged his former Raiders teammate as he dived over in the corner.

The visitors finally opened their account on the hour mark when a Scott Drinkwater break downfield from a kick return was followed by Chad Townsend grubbering for Jeremiah Nanai to notch a try in his 50th NRL game, his 31st and 16th from a kick.

Valentine Holmes became the third Cowboy to spill the pill over the stripe after Valemei batted back a high kick but the Maoons centre was denied by a last-gasp diving tackle from Jojo Fifita, who had sprinted across from the opposite side of the field.

Put it down mate!

???? Watch #NRLTitansCowboys on ch.502 or stream on Kayo:

— Fox League (@FOXNRL) May 12, 2024

With Foran hobbling off with a hamstring problem and Brimson also forced off with a leg injury, there were more than a few nervous flutters through the Gold Coast camp but they managed to hang on when Nanai touched down a second time with five minutes remaining and Feldt also crossed in the shadows of full-time.

Brian Kelly also went to the sheds before the final siren and Feldt nearly stole victory in the dying seconds with North Queensland’s last roll of the dice but was denied by a Sam Verrills try-saver.

Gold Coast deservedly move away from South Sydney on the bottom rung of the NRL ladder while the Cowboys are heading backwards fast in 12th spot.

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