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Morgan stars as Cowboys beat Titans in NRL

NZN 3/06/2017 Rohan O'Neil

Maroons utility Michael Morgan helped put the disappointment of a State of Origin opening loss behind him by guiding North Queensland to a much-needed 20-8 home NRL win on Saturday night over Gold Coast.

With Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston still sidelined, Townsville junior Morgan played arguably his best game of the season, the halfback bagging a try and impressing with his kicking game all night.

Opposing Origin star Jarryd Hayne had a largely forgettable night, the Blues' centre barely noticeable in a Titans side needing some attacking spark.

After playing major minutes for the Maroons on Wednesday night, Morgan showed no ill-effects in his polished display, with Cowboys coach Paul Green quick to praise the 25-year-old playmaker.

"Morgs, in particular, controlled the game really well at half. I thought his kicking game was quite good.

"It's not easy (backing up from Origin) but I thought tonight he was outstanding and I'm really proud of his effort," Green said.

Apart from 10 minutes before halftime, the Titans struggled and were outscored 14-0 in the final term.

North Queensland looked promising in attack and enjoyed 65 per cent of possession in the opening 20 minutes but couldn't convert against resolute Gold Coast defence.

The Cowboys were finally rewarded when Morgan powered over for a signature running try.

A Kyle Feldt penalty goal took North Queensland to 6-0 nearing halftime.

The Titans were then quick to pounce on a Cowboys error, Dale Copley combining with Ash Taylor to send the Titans' halfback over for an impressive 50-metre try.

While Lachlan Coote stopped a certain Gold Coast try, a ruck penalty allowed Taylor to boot the Titans to an unlikely 8-6 halftime lead.

North Queensland started the second period with great attacking intent and were soon rewarded when Coen Hess stormed over for his ninth try of the year to recapture the lead for the Cowboys.

Feldt added another penalty goal to extend the Cowboys' lead to six and he added four more points shortly after with a smart finish from an inch-perfect Morgan cut-out pass.

The Cowboys went out to 20-8 lead after the Titans gifted Feldt a penalty shot from in front when they failed to get a line dropout away in time.

Gold Coast coach Neil Henry lamented an error-riddled display.

"You can't beat teams when you're expected to do that amount of defensive work," Henry said.

"Our middle players had to do a tremendous amount of work in that first half and that takes energy out of us.

"We didn't get any flow in the game, we didn't get down the field or force any repeat sets and the Cowboys did their job well."

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