The Brisbane Broncos solidified their top eight spot after trumping the Gold Coast Titans 34-0 on Sunday afternoon at Cbus Super Stadium.
Prior to kick-off, a host of changes were made to the Titans and Broncos. For the Titans, prop Jack Stockwell was omitted and replaced by Moeaki Fotuaika. Leilani Latu was called up from the reserves list to the interchange bench. Broncos coach Wayne Bennett elected to revert Jaydn Su’A back to the second row, elevate Kotoni Staggs into the starting side and start Alex Glenn at hooker, with Jake Turpin making his NRL debut off the interchange bench.
The Broncos’ intent to challenge the Titans’ defensive left edge was evident in the opening exchanges. The first try came in the second minute to Broncos halfback Kodi Nikorima, off the back of a brilliant run and one-handed offload from 19-year old Kotoni Staggs. Broncos winger Jonus Pearson effectively set the tone for the match shortly after, denying the Titans a try with a monster tackle on fullback Michael Gordon. Poor discipline from the Titans gifted the Broncos back-to-back penalties and allowed Jamayne Isaako to put the Broncos out to an eight-point lead after just nine minutes. This was extended 10 minutes later, when a rampaging Jaydn Su’A split the Titans’ left edge defence and flicked it out the back to send Staggs over. Off the back of a gallant run from Patrick Mago and a brilliant inside pass from Anthony Milford, captain Darius Boyd ran over the top of two Titans defenders to score the Broncos’ third try and give them a 20-0 halftime lead.
In addition to the absences of Jai Arrow and Jarrod Wallace, the loss of forward Keegan Hipgrave to a HIA late in the first half was a big blow for the Titans, and hurt their ability to gain field position in the second half. The countless missed opportunities and poor execution from the Titans effectively gave the Broncos a license to dominate.
Two penalty goals to Isaako in the 45thand 56thminutes increased the Broncos’ lead before a clever decoy run from Sam Thaiday created a gap for Joe Ofahengaue to run over the top of Mitch Rein and Nathan Peats to score, giving the Broncos an unattainable 30-0 lead. The best passage of play came in the 75thminute, when the deft passing from right to left (and a sublime sleight of hand from centre Jordan Kahu) sent winger Jonus Pearson over to cap a brilliant afternoon for Wayne Bennett’s Broncos.
NO ORIGIN STARS, NO WORRIES
In arguably their most complete performance of 2018, the absence of their Origin stars didn’t seem to faze Brisbane. Pearson, Staggs, Ofahengaue and Turpin were tremendous in place of Corey Oates, James Roberts, Josh McGuire and Andrew McCullough respectively. The confidence and skill that these young players brought – in both attack and defence – was instrumental in keeping the Titans scoreless.
POOR DISCIPLINE COSTS TITANS
It was a night the Titans would rather forget. A combination of frustration, a lack of self-belief and countless missed opportunities were the contributing factors to their worst attacking and defensive performance of 2018. Fourteen incomplete sets, 50 missed tackles and 16 errors are telling statistics. The Titans’ error-riddled 80 minutes made it impossible for them to mount any pressure or get their attack flowing.
BRONCOS’ DOMINANCE CONTINUES
The Broncos have scored 88 unanswered points against the Titans in the last two matches at Cbus Super Stadium, with 25 wins from 31 overall. Sitting just two points shy of the top four, the Broncos have strengthened their premiership chances.
TOUGH ROAD AHEAD FOR TITANS
With only eight games to go in the regular season, the Titans’ season is hanging by a thread. As they remain in 11thplace on 14 competition points, it is imperative they win at least seven more games to keep their finals hopes alive. With the Sydney Roosters, Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm comprising three of these must-win clashes, the Titans will have to regain their form from rounds 15 and 16 to compete with these three NRL heavyweights.
Brisbane Broncos 34
Tries: Kodi Nikorima, Kotoni Staggs, Darius Boyd, Joe Ofahengaue, Jonus Pearson
Goals: Jamayne Isaako 7
Gold Coast Titans 0
Gold Coast Titans: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Dale Copley, 4 Brenko Lee, 5 Phillip Sami, 6 AJ Brimson, 7 Ashley Taylor, 17 Moeaki Fotuaika, 9 Nathan Peats, 10 Ryan James (c), 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Will Matthews, 13 Keegan Hipgrave. Interchange: 14 Mitch Rein, 15 Morgan Boyle, 16 Konrad Hurrell, 18 Leilani Latu.
Brisbane Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd (c), 2 Jonus Pearson, 17 Kotoni Staggs, 4 Jordan Kahu, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Matthew Lodge, 11 Alex Glenn, 10 Sam Thaiday, 15 Tevita Pangai jnr, 12 Jaydn Su’A, 13 Joe Ofahengaue. Interchange: 9 Jake Turpin, 14 Patrick Mago, 16 Korbin Sims, 19 David Fifita.