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2021 NRL Round Eight, Broncos 36 Titans 28 – Report

Shannon Meyer reviews a high-scoring win for the Broncos over their local rivals where they came back from 22-0 after just 15 minutes.

SCOREBOARD

Broncos 36

Tries: Herbie Farnworth (17), Jamayne Isaako (22, 37), Xavier Coates (31), Corey Oates (46), Jesse Arthars (50)

Goals: Jamayne Isaako (19, 23, 38, 48, 52, 63 – pen)

Titans 28

Tries: Kevin Proctor (2), Corey Thompson (5), Alexander Brimson (11), Tyrone Peachey (13), Mitch Rein (68)

Goals: Jamal Fogarty (3, 13, 15, 69)

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Jamayne Isaako (Brisbane Broncos)
2 pts – AJ Brimson (Gold Coast Titans)
1 pt – Mitch Rein (Gold Coast Titans)

MATCH REPORT

1st Half

It was a big night for the Broncos with a local derby against their near neighbours who have dominated recent clashes; amid the midweek news of the departure of yet another star in Tom Dearden, the Broncos unveiled yet another new halves lineup: with Anthony Milford returning from Souths Logan and Tyson Gamble promoted from Norths, who coincidentally were the first team Milford played in his second grade stint. After being ordinary in Darwin last week against the Eels, the Broncos needed to show something. Anything.

It didn’t take long for the visitors to commence the pain for the home side, as within the first two minutes, and on their second attacking set, Ash Taylor placed a perfect grubber kick on the third tackle for Kevin Proctor to easily regather and stroll over from five metres. The amount of space Proctor had so early in the game was a worry. The easy conversion slotted made it 6-0.

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To compound the early try conceded, Jamayne Isaako followed it up with a kick that was too big and handed the Titans a penalty on the halfway mark with a full set.

By the end of the set it was a second try from a second perfect grubber. After some fine ball movement and skill with overhead passes going left the Titans then headed right and the ball ended in the hands of halfback Jamal Fogarty. He then produced a perfect grubber to the left corner which found Corey Thompson; he had what felt like acres to himself and scored easily. The popular and effervescent winger was proving to be quite the opposite of his opponents already.

After dominating every aspect of the game the Titans extended their lead in the 12th minute from, you guessed it, another perfect grubber. It was Fogarty again who provided the grubber close to the line to the right, and once again there was the oodles of space for any Titan to score; this time it was AJ Brimson who chased best and got the right bounce just before it went dead. Fogarty added another two points and the lead was more than a point a minute and with no indication that rate was about to slow.

A point a minute you say? How about next set when the Gold Coast extended their lead to 20 points before the 15 minute mark? This time there was no grubber kick, just a simple move up the middle as Mitch Rein from dummy half found Tyrone Peachey who found Brimson to the left and then returned the favour to Peachey on the inside in an attacking move that looked nothing more than a training run. Thankfully the horse that runs around Suncorp Stadium only does it for the home side as they would be looking for the defibrillator for animal and jockey at this stage. For the record the conversion was slotted and it was 22-0 after 15 minutes and the Titans had scored from four of their seven attacking sets.

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But the point scoring didn’t stay exclusively to the Titans, as they finally got the ball back and after the luxury of a set restart and it was Herbie Farnworth who finished off a nice move to the left which involved Milford and Isaako. Farnworth had a bit of work to do from 10 metres out and did it well to open Brisbane’s scoring. The conversion made it 22-6.

The Broncos doubled down two sets later when Isaako finished off a lovely movement to the right with new halves combination Gamble and Milford throwing passes in the process. Like the first try it came off the back of positive runs up the middle and a helpful set restart. One conversion later and it was 22-12 with more than 15 minutes remaining in the first half. The pace of the game was giving match report writers everywhere cramps.

Brisbane came close again soon after when they were handed a Falcon-inspired repeat set from a kick. A Jesse Arthars tackle halted a promising attacking play. The Titans themselves threw away a good attacking opportunity the very next set.

A key moment came in the 28th minute when Xavier Coates scooted down the right sideline, and his infield kick found Gamble who was unable to offer more than diving on the ball to keep possession. However as part of the tackle Brimson was judged to have interfered with Gamble getting back to play the ball, and the professional foul was called and the Titans fullback was given 10 minutes rest courtesy of the sin bin. The Broncos were one player up and 10 points down but unable to take advantage. Yet.

With their next attacking set Brisbane had their third try of the match and the gap reduced further still. Again Isaako was involved, this time with a take from a Titans bomb, and his 30 metre kick return found Gamble who then found a flying Coates who did the job from 40 metres out in the right corner. No conversion left the score 22-16 but the Broncos were charging. And maybe they would need that defibrillator for the horse after all.

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Brisbane wiped the margin a few minutes later with a move to the right starting with Gamble who then found Tevita Pangai who gave a thundering cut-out pass to Coates on the right edge and eventually then man of the moment Isaako was backing up inside and scored his second of the night, the fourth try for Brisbane, and the eighth try in total.

Anyone who saw the Broncos’ first 12 minutes would have hardly believed that the half-time score would be 22-22 but it was, and the rugby league world was massively entertained by the first 40 minutes. Brisbane had even managed to keep the hulking David Fifita reasonably quiet in the first 40.

It was time for all to catch their breath as the half-time siren sounded after the most attacking, see-sawing first half of rugby league one could imagine.

HALF-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 22 Gold Coast Titans 22

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2nd Half

Another key moment against the Titans just after half time saw Thompson assisted from the field after a heavy collision after taking a last play bomb easily. He left the field assisted and didn’t look like he was coming back.

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Brisbane hit the front in sensational style seven minutes into the second half when Corey Oates plucked a Titans pass down the right hand touch line and ran 90 metres to score and put the Broncos in front for the first time for the night. Even better: the intercept came within a second of the Titans being awarded a set restart in attack. Isaako slotted the sideline conversion to hand the Broncos a 28-22 lead.

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The success-starved Suncorp Stadium crowd went wild a few minutes later as Arthars scored for the Broncos. Of course the final pass came from Isaako and had Gamble involved as they went right on the 10 metre mark, and a successful conversion meant the Broncos has scored 32 unanswered points, and looked like plenty more were coming. How’s the horse doing?

After a point-scoring lull not seen in the game to that point, the Broncos added two more points courtesy of a penalty goal off a kick gone wrong over the sideline by the Titans, who were slipping further off the pace as the match progressed. Isaako’s two points gave the Broncos a handy 14-point lead with just over a quarter of rugby league to be played.

The Gold Coast went close to reviving their chances in the 65th minute when Fifita grubbered the ball and collected after a Broncos knock-on, and he fell just short of the line yet got the ball back after a Broncos knock-on as part of the Fifita play. The Titans went even closer to crashing over from the repeat set but were just short and the video referee denied them again (correctly). Still, they received another set return.

Finally the Titans reduced the margin after Rein burrowed over from five metres out to score for the Titans after multiple repeat sets. There were just over 10 minutes to play and the successful conversion made it 36-28. Given the context of this game, eight more points shouldn’t be a worry with 10 minutes remaining.

They nearly did it next set as Fifita provided another effective grubber which was acrobatically batted back by Rein to Fifita himself, but the ball went dead just as the Titans forward went to score. And the Titans had enough ball and chances to get closer in the last few minutes but their first half magic had escaped them, although this did coincide with Fifita’s most lively period.

There were no further points and the Broncos had themselves a win over their neighbours and their first win over a team other than Canterbury-Bankstown for over a year (against South Sydney in round two, 2020). Both teams celebrated with a melee on full time as frustrations from the Titans boiled over, and the Gold Coast may well be frustrated after dominating teams in portions of the first half in the last two weeks and falling sort. Their pre-season tips of improvement have proved correct, but perhaps not as high up the ladder as some expected.

It was a free-flowing game, a great comeback, and a winning performance for Brisbane: three things the Broncos have done very little of recently, so they have something positive to move forward with. Where it came from who knows, and let’s see if they can maintain it.

FULL-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 36 Gold Coast Titans 28

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Injuries

to be advised

Match Review Committee

Jordan Riki (Broncos) – Grade 1 Contrary Conduct – Early Guilty Plea $1350 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $1800 fine
Matt Lodge (Broncos) – Grade 1 Contrary Conduct – Early Guilty Plea $1150 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $1500 fine

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