Round Four of the NRL Telstra Premiership sees a Queensland derby on Easter Sunday, as the Gold Coast Titans travel up the M1 to face the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium at 6:30 pm AEDT. The Broncos come off a hard fought win over the Tigers 9-7 in Campbelltown last Friday, while the Titans look to bounce back after an embarrassing 54-8 defeat at the hands of the Dragons in Toowoomba last Sunday.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Broncos played the Wests Tigers last Friday in Campbelltown Stadium, a venue they have never lost at before. The game was riddled with penalties and errors by both sides, but what remained consistent was their respective strength on defence. The Broncos though looked the better of the two sides when it came down to attack, creating more chances for themselves. Their closest chance at a try came with a Darius Boyd grubber grounded by Jack Bird, but it was denied by the bunker. The Tigers moments later managed to score in an almost identical way with a great Luke Brooks grubber cleaned up by Michael Chee-Kam on the left side. All locked up at 7-7, golden point went to its second period with the Jamayne Isaako kicking a penalty goal for the Broncos to win 9-7 in controversial fashion.
The Titans faced the Dragons in Toowoomba on Sunday afternoon, where the home side were hoping to come back from a defeat against the Warriors in New Zealand. The matchup was even through the first 29 minutes with the Dragons having a 10-8 lead, but from there the floodgates began to open for the visitors. Three tries in as many minutes effectively put the game to bed within the first 40, as the Dragons took advantage of the terrible Titans defence. Mistakes continued to burden Gold Coast, with a kickoff that went dead to start the second half and consistent missed tackles struggled to keep them relevant in the contest. Five more tries were run in by full time to cap off a resounding 54-8 score line for the Red V. The Dragons were nowhere near perfect, which could be a worry for Coach Garth Brennan this week against one of the competition heavy weights.
Tevita Pangai Jr. and Corey Oates are both out with hamstring and hip injuries respectively, which sees Jonus Pearson start on the wing and Korbin Sims start at prop. Jaydan Su’A joins the bench.
Bryce Cartwright has been dropped to the bench, with Will Matthews starting in place. Jai Arrow moves to lock, Captain Ryan James will start in the front row and Max King comes onto the bench for the suspended Keegan Hipgrave.
After a big first round loss to the Dragons, the Broncos have managed to win two games against tough sides in good looking fashion. They exercised great attacking football against the Cowboys, and won a gritty matchup with the in-form Tigers away from home last week. Injuries to two key players will hinder them this week, but the class of their reserves should show through. The Titans, with no Jarryd Hayne and a new Coach entered 2018 as one of the lower ranked sides. A comeback win against the Raiders was a positive start, but two losses since where they have been completely outplayed signal a few worries. The young halves pairing of Elgey and Taylor is still taking shape, and a starting 13 that seems to change each year without holding onto passionate clubmen is sure to see them struggle for the first half of a season.
The last time these two sides played, the Broncos demolished the Titans 54-0 on the Gold Coast, with Ben Hut putting on a show from dummy half.
The strength of the Titans is arguably their front row, which boasts Ryan James, Nathan Peats and Jarrod Wallace – two Origin talents and their loyal captain. Looking at the Broncos, forwards have always been a strength of theirs, but with front rower Tevita Pangai Jr. injured this week, this battle in the middle of the park with the Titans could be closer than first though.
The addition of Jarrod Wallace a year ago from the Broncos was a great one for the Titans, picking up a forward who made his Origin debut in 2017 and is still at a young age. The same can be said for James and Peats, who both boast a heap of potential at a young age still. Given the lack of passion that seems to be a consistent problem for the Titans, James will be needed to boost up his troops and have them ready for battle.
Sims had a great 2017 campaign for the Broncos, seeing him become a regular starter next to Adam Blair in a strong forward pack. Matt Lodge has filled that void that Blair left in 2018, and has managed to ignore the criticism and have a strong start to the season. With the reliable Andrew McCullough at dummy half, Brisbane should be defensively sound in the middle.
Brisbane enforcer Sam Thaiday spoke of his head injury last week saying he felt a bit dizzy, but is cleared and excited to play. Kodi Nikorima said playing on a Sunday is “a bit different”, but is very excited for the encounter.
Michael Gordon of the Titans said that after last week’s loss his side needs to improve against the Broncos, but is not too worried just yet. “It was obviously a disappointing game on the weekend but it is not panic stations,” he added.
The Titans have dropped the last seven games against the Broncos, their last win coming in 2014 in round six. As well as that, the Titans have only beaten the Broncos once at Suncorp Stadium out of 13 attempts.
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd (c), 2 Jonus Pearson, 3 James Roberts, 4 Jack Bird, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Korbin Sims, 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Matt Gillett, 13 Josh McGuire Interchange: 14 Sam Thaiday, 15 Joe Ofahengaue, 16 Tom Opacic, 17 Jaydn Su’A Reserves: 18 Todd Murphy, 19 Sam Tagataese, 20 Gehamat Shibasaki, 21 Patrick Mogo
Titans: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Dale Copley, 4 Konrad Hurrell, 5 Phillip Sami, 6 Kane Elgey, 7 Ashley Taylor, 8 Jarrod Wallace, 9 Nathan Peats, 10 Ryan James (c), 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Will Matthews 13 Jai Arrow Interchange: 14 Mitch Rein, 15 Max King, 16 Bryce Cartwright, 17 Leilani Latu Reserves: 18 Morgan Boyle, 19 Ryan Simpkins, 20 AJ Brimson, 21 Tyronne Roberts-Davis
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday 1st April 2018
Venue: Suncopr Stadium, Brisbane
Kickoff: 6:30 pm AEDT
Referee: Chris Sutton, Chris Butler (assistant)
WHO WILL WIN?
The Titans boast an attractive starting 13, but given their struggles a week ago and the lack of depth in their side in comparison to the Broncos, it is hard to see them grabbing the two points in this one. The Broncos will be able to utilise some of their young guns in Jonus Pearson and Jaydn Su’A, and may ultimately have too much firepower and class for the visitors. Back home on a Sunday afternoon in Brisbane will be a comfortable scenario to solidify a spot in the top eight. Broncos by 10.