The NRL top four is within reach for North Queensland after a commanding 28-8 win over Gold Coast in Townsville.
And it was appropriate the Cowboys donned Thor-inspired jerseys for Saturday’s clash as part of the Marvel Super Hero round, as the win delivered a hammer blow to the Titans’ own finals aspirations.
Test prop James Tamou failed to recover from a neck injury sustained against Canterbury last week.
But his absence was tempered by the return from long-term injury of Matt Scott (fractured cheekbone) and Gavin Cooper (dislocated hip).
And it was like they had never been out of the Cowboys’ team.
Cooper stormed 45m upfield in the 35th minute, reviving his freakish combination with Johnathan Thurston to score untouched under the sticks. He went on to rattle upfield for 145 metres for the match.
That try was the turning point, with the Cowboys taking the lead for the first time after the Titans had run out to an unlikely 8-0 advantage.
But the biggest praise was reserved for Scott, who was the best forward on the field in his first appearance since being cut down in State of Origin II, with 176 metres, 24 tackles and four tackle breaks.
Michael Morgan, Tautau Moga, Kane Linnett and Thurston all crossed in the rout.
Thurston’s try was scored in bizarre circumstances with the Test five-eighth plucking the ball from between the legs of David Mead after the Titan had coughed it up while being driven towards his own touchline.
It was an ugly match at times, with the injury-ravaged Titans opting for the physical approach, which threatened to boil over in the second half when a melee erupted from the running battle between Ashton Sims and Paul Carter.
The Titans received a boost with evergreen prop Luke Bailey returning from a hamstring strain, but first-choice halves Albert Kelly (leg) and Aidan Sezer (pectoral) headline a long list of players still out injured.
It could get worse for Gold Coast with makeshift five-eighth Brad Takairangi taken from the field with suspected concussion while mid-season buy Daniel Mortimer lashed out at Antonio Winterstein and it might be reviewed.