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2022 NRL Indigenous Round, Broncos 35 Titans 24 – Report

Shannon Meyer reviews a thrilling derby between the Broncos and Titans as the home side come back from 20 points down to win.

MATCHDAY RESULTS

SCOREBOARD

Brisbane Broncos 35
Tries: Selwyn Cobbo (33), Te Maire Martin (52), Jordan Riki (53), Herbie Farnworth (58), Kurt Capewell (69), Ezra Mam (73)
Goals: Kotoni Staggs 5 (53, 55, 59, 70, 74)

Gold Coast Titans 24
Tries: Jayden Campbell (8), Corey Thompson (17), AJ Brimson (23), David Fifita (35)
Goals: Jamayne Isaako 4 (9, 18, 23, 36)

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

The Broncos were heading into the latest local derby with the Gold Coast Titans in their best form in years, and a solid top eight berth which has evaded them since pre-Covid. But their great run of five wins in a row was overshadowed going into the game with star prop Payne Haas demanding an immediate release from the club. Despite the contract issues, he was named and started, and received his fair share of boos with his first few carries of the game. The home fans providing an insight into the whole affair, which would be very disappointing as a Broncos fan. Surely all or some would be forgiven with a try and a win.

A reasonably quiet opening to the match was livened up by the match officials as The Bunker and referee combined to review a late Jordan Riki hit on Titans halfback Toby Sexton after he had passed the ball. It was indeed late, and looked like a shoulder, and so Riki was put on report and sent to the Sin Bin for ten minutes. One could argue it was probably deserving of a report, and these days a 10 minute rest. The Gold Coast Titans had a one-player advantage in just the seventh minute.

It didn’t take long for the Titans to take advantage: they simply went through the hands from the left to the right until they found Jayden Campbell who stopped, jinked, and sliced through Ezra “George” Mam’s attempt to tackle him close to the line and he scored with relative ease. Jamayne Isaako, who played for the Broncos in Round One, converted the ty to make it 6-0.

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After initially dominating with the extra player, the Titans were under a decent amount of pressure from the Broncos, who wasted a triple-decker set on the Titans’ line.

The Gold Coast made the Broncos pay however, and even waited until it was the Broncos at full strength. Heading left late in the tackle count, Titans halfback Toby Sexton noticed an unmarked Corey Thompson on the wing, and Sexton’s long cutout pass was a ripper and the tenacious Titans winger did what he does best and battled his way to the line and scored Gold Coast’s second. Talking of seconds, Isaako nailed the sideline conversion for a 12-0 lead with 20 minutes to go in the first half.

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Four minutes later and the Titans went further ahead. Again Toby Sexton was the architect of the try, with a grubber into open space in the in-goal from 12 metres out, and the lively AJ Brimson was quickest on the ball and he just got the ball down before it went too long. Gold Coast had flipped the recent form script and were 18-0 after Isaako got the conversion.

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It wasn’t all good news for the Titans as Tino Fa’asuamaleaui looked to be injured, but recovered with World Cup football speed to play on. A byproduct of the tackle was Tom Flegler was put on report for his role in it.

But the luck was turning from the Gold Coast. Instead of nearly scoring with a lofted pass to Corey Thompson, it was intercepted by Selwyn Cobbo who broke through half a dozen tackles before being nabbed by Sam McIntyre. But McIntyre held on too long to the half break and was marched to the Sin Bin for a professional.

Bad news was coming thick and fast now, as Toby Sexton, who was the best player on the ground to that point was escorted from the field with his arm in a temporary sling made out of his jersey at the same time. Amazingly, Sexton returned to the field later in the second half.

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Unbelievably, a few minutes later, the Titans had more bad news as they were down to 11 players after a second sin binning for a professional foul. This time it was Esan Marsters who was taking a breather, for holding down too long in the tackle. It was seven minute until half time and the Broncos had the ball 10 metres out with a two player advantage.

It didn’t take long for the Broncos to take advantage, and no surprise it was their new superstar in Selwyn Cobbo who scored the try. With the two-player advantage the Broncos went right and a looping cut out from Te Maire Martin found Cobbo who at speed. Cobbo also provided a fine post try celebration, with a tribute to this weekend’s Indigenous Round.

Amazing to think the Titans were not far from going 22-0 up, and now were only 18-4 with two players down.

Needing something big from a big name, they don’t come with a bigger pay packet for the Titans than David Fifita, and he produced a big money play by charging from dummy half close to the line and powered through some Broncos defending and used his strength to put the ball down despite the attention of three players in the end. The Gold Coast had been gifted the ball after Tom Flegler dropped the ball on the return set from their try. Isaako’s conversion made it 24-4 with four minutes to go, yet were still two players down.

The Broncos almost stole some points back just before half time, but the final pass after a lengthy Kurt Capewell charge down the sideline went astray.

The Gold Coast deserved their lead, playing the better rugby league in a first half with very few errors from either side, but would still have to deal with being down two players to start the second half.

HALF-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 4 Gold Coast Titans 24

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2nd Half

The second half opened at a cracking pace, but for all the chances on offer for both sides, the score hadn’t changed after more than 10 second half minutes. This meant that the Titans ended up outscoring the Broncos 6-4 while they were down two players.

Brisbane needed to be the first team to score in the second half and they did just in the 53rd minute. The Broncos were on the attack courtesy of a big play the defensive set before as crowd favourite Payne Haas pushed Jayden Campbell 10 metres back into his in-goal. From the subsequent drop out Brisbane scored through Te Maire Martin. The fullback scored his first try for Brisbane as he weaved his way through the left hand Titans defense from 20 metres out, and collected the rebounded pass of Corey Thompson to score the try. Staggs got his first conversion of the night, and the score was 24-10 with more than a quarter of the game to go.

With barely enough time to catch your breath, the Broncos had scored again. For some unknown reason the Titans went aggressive with the kick off and Isaako performed a 10 metre grubber kick, and this was collected at pace by Broncos hooker Corey Paix, who then found Jordan Riki on his inside and the Broncos forward powered his way to the line untouched. Less than 20 seconds after the kick off, the Broncos were now within eight points at 24-16. Momentum had fully swung to the Broncos now.

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That momentum kept on coming minutes later as the Broncos were gifted the ball back after Jamayne Isaako spilled a run-of-the-mill bomb. One play later Herbie Farnworth picked the ball up from dummy half and powered his way through the Titans’ goal line defense from two metres out. A great way to celebrate his re-signing with the Broncos mid-week. The conversion made, and Brisbane were now within two points and the crowd were right behind them.

The next period of the match saw both throwing plenty at each other, with good chances for either side going missing. But at this pace and flair, there was surely another try or two to come.

Another try did come with 10 minutes to go, and one the home crowd would be very happy with. It started on halfway after consecutive cutout passes from Tyson Gamble and Ezra Mam found Corey Oates, who sprinted down the sideline, and when approached by the Titans fullback kicked back on the inside and Kurt Capewell led a bunch of team mates to the ball to score near the posts. An easy conversion was slotted and the Broncos were now 28-24 ahead and had officially turned around a 20-point deficit.

A few sets later Broncos had sealed the win with another try. Ezra Mam set up the play with a pass that put Herbie Farnworth into space, and the Broncos centre pulled off a fine flick pass and found Mam who darted over the line to score his first NRL try in just his second game. Mam was doing an admirable job filling in for Adam Reynolds. Staggs’ conversion had the Broncos now ahead by 34-24 and the Broncos had scored five tries in just over 20 minutes.

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As if the Titans needed salt for their wounds, Tyson Gamble produced some with a minute to go, as he slotted a field to add extra value to anyone picking the correct score of this game.

Few would have thought that the Broncos could have overturned a 20-point gap, given how little heart they have shown in the previous seasons, but this current Broncos side is something completely different, playing with tenacity and flair in equal measure, and in the end won quite comfortably. That’s now six wins in a row, and the Broncos are knocking on the door for the top four, and are genuinely deserving of it on current form. The win tonight will certainly cool the Payne Haas story for a bit.

The Gold Coast will be disappointed letting such a big lead go against their closest rivals, and this despite outscoring the Broncos with two fewer players. They lost their way when Toby Sexton left the field, but even his return in the second half couldn’t turn it around. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui tried his very hardest, but you’d have to look at David Fifita for his contribution, or lack thereof. And some back-to-back crucial errors from former Bronco Jamyane Isaako proved to be a turning point, which gave the Broncos that all-important momentum. Their second half capitulations makes it hard to see them playing finals football in 2022.

FULL-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 35 Gold Coast Titans 24

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

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3 pts – Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Titans), 2 pts – Ezra Mam (Broncos), 1 pt – Toby Sexton (Titans)

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