The Titans season may be mathematically over after a disappointing loss to the Tigers last week, however that doesn’t mean that there won’t be plenty to play for in their clash with local rivals the Broncos on Saturday.  The Broncos have always had the upper hand in the Queensland derby, and the Titans will be looking to restore some pride against their finals bound big brother.

Last Time Out

The Titans had the chance to keep their season alive for at least another week, however they seemed to have left their spirit in the sheds as they were out-enthused by a young Tigers side in a 26-4 loss. The Tigers appeared to simply want it more, as they smothered the Titans with quick line speed and forced errors. Coach Neil Henry’s decision to shuffle around key players Jarryd Hayne, Tyrone Roberts and Kane Elgey proved costly as the team struggled to adjust to the combinations, and Hayne was unable make any impact on the game while stuck in the centres.

The Broncos were shocked by a Parramatta side who produced their best performance of the year, however an even bigger loss came in the form of Andrew McCullough’s season ending knee injury. Brisbane raced out to a 12-0 lead after just 7 minutes, until the Eels burst into life and replied with some enterprising footy. The Broncos were unable to cross for another try all game but they displayed some courageous defence to keep the Eels at bay. McCullough’s injury appeared to break the spirit of the Broncos, with the Eels running in 2 tries in the final 5 minutes to top off a strong victory.

Key Battle

All the talk this week has been about the Broncos interest in bringing Titans halfback Ash Taylor back to Brisbane, and with the young gun showing intentions of staying put at the Titans, he should be eager to show the Broncos what they missed out on by letting him walk.  Taylor has indicated that he will stay loyal to the Titans after they gave him his opportunity in first grade, and he would undoubtedly love to put a show on against his former club. Taylor has already notched up a few try assists against the Broncos in previous encounters, and with a deadly kicking game in his arsenal he is a good chance of producing more on Saturday.  His opposing halfback Kodi Nikorima has plenty to prove himself, as he has been trusted with the number 7. Jersey while experienced halfback Ben Hunt covers McCullough’s absence at hooker.  The Broncos are clearly looking towards the future by keeping Nikorima in the halfback spot which is his to lose for next season, however Wayne Bennet’s act of confirming interest in Ash Taylor shows that Kodi still has a long way to go towards cementing the position for himself. Nikorima will be desperate to show that he deserves to be the Broncos halfback for the long term future, and he will need to upstage Bennet’s desired target in order to do so.

Prediction

The Titans were extremely disappointing last week, and although their season is now over, they will surely be far more determined to put up a strong fight against their local rivals. The loss of McCullough leaves a big dent in the Broncos, particularly in defence, however that won’t be enough to stop them as they work towards cementing a top 4 finish. The Broncos should have too much firepower against a spirited Titans effort.

Broncos by 10

Squads

Saturday 5 August, 5.30pm at Cbus Super Stadium

Titans team: 1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. John Olive 5. William Zillman 6. Kane Elgey 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Joe Greenwood 13. Max King 14. Tyrone Roberts 15. Morgan Boyle 16. Leivaha Pulu 17. Agnatius Paasi 18. Nathaniel Peteru 19. Phillip Sami 20. Pat Politoni 21. Paterika Vaivai

Broncos team: 1. Darius Boyd 2. David Mead 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Korbin Sims 9. Ben Hunt 10. Adam Blair 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh Mcguire 14. Sam Thaiday 15. Tevita Pangai 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Benji Marshall 18. Corey Oates 19. Tom Opacic 20. Herman Essese 21. Jamayne Isaako