Gold Coast 13, North Queensland 12, snakes one.
Monday’s NRL clash between the Titans and Cowboys at Robina Stadium may have been won by the home team in an arm wrestle but it was a creature with no limbs which stole the show.
A three-foot brown snake slithered onto the grass between the playing field and the stands in the south-east corner of the stadium 10 minutes into the first half, sending fans fleeing to higher ground.
The game continued despite the lethal intruder’s presence, with the snake eventually disappearing down a drain.
While the snake’s appearance was a sideshow, it was the Titans who posted back-to-back wins to move into the NRL top eight.
The Cowboys led 6-0 at halftime thanks to a Johnathan Thurston try inside the opening 10 minutes with fullback Michael Morgan surprisingly outpacing Albert Kelly to a loose ball late in the half when the Titans halfback appeared destined for his fourth breakaway try of the year.
The second half begun with a heavy shower drifting across the stadium and the greasy conditions resulted in a scrappy final 40.
The Cowboys’ poor handling gave the Titans the levelling try when Kevin Gordon pounced after Morgan had spilled a bomb on the goalline.
The home team hit the front when Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt couldn’t grasp an Aidan Sezer grubber and Brad Tighe dived onto the ball.
Sezer, who had only been cleared to play from a quad injury on the day before the game, then sealed the points with a field goal in the 69th minute.
Prop Matt Scott scored a try after the siren but it was a mere consolation for the disappointing Cowboys who were given an on-field serve from captain Thurston after the match for their error-riddled display.
Titans pair Ashley Harrison and Paul Carter could find themselves in hot water with the judiciary after both targeted Cowboy Rory Kostjasyn, Harrison with a first-half shoulder charge and Carter for a dangerous tackle.
Thurston wouldn’t reveal what he said to his teammates before slotting the final conversion, venting his frustrations after the Cowboys completed just 25 of 47 sets and committed 22 errors.
“When you’re tossing up the numbers that you’re tossing up, it makes it very hard for ourselves,” the Queensland and Australia representative star said.
“Training-wise, we need to be better. Preparation, we need to be better. When you’re tossing up, what we tossed up, it makes it very hard and we still only lost by a point.”
While the Cowboys are battling for form, Titans coach John Cartwright was happy to grind out another win with his team far from their best.
“You take any win the way that you can get it mate,” Cartwright said.
“The conditions weren’t there for a flowing game … the games that we’ve won have been pretty gritty affairs so we had to do that again.”