Titans fall to Broncos in local derby
Friday 5 April 2013 10:09 PM
The iSelect Gold Coast Titans have fallen 32-12 to their ‘big brothers’ the Brisbane Broncos in a blockbusting Queensland derby at Skilled Park tonight.
Played in front of a bumper crowd of 22,749, both teams were locked in an arm wrestle for the best part of 70 minutes before the Broncos crossed for three tries in the final 11 minutes to runaway with the match.
The Titans ran out of steam in the second half after being left with only one fit player on the interchange bench following injuries to Albert Kelly (knee, medial ligament), Ben Ridge (pectoral) and Brad Takairangi (hamstring).
The Titans also suffered a blow before kick-off with Aidan Sezer being forced to withdraw from the match with a hamstring strain.
His absence forced the Titans backline into a scramble with Greg Bird moving to five-eighth, Dave Taylor starting in the backrow and centre Steve Michaels coming onto the bench.
With Sezer out, the playmaking duties fell largely on halfback Kelly, who produced a brilliant first half effort including a miraculous solo-try to take the Titans to a slim 12-10 half-time lead.
But with the compounding injuries on the Titans, the Broncos took advantage to continue their recent run of dominant second-half performances with four unanswered tries.
While giving no excuses for the loss, iSelect Gold Coast Titans coach John Cartwright conceded the forced reshuffle without Sezer had disrupted his side and the impact was evident in his team's kicking game.
“We know we were capable of better,” Cartwright said.
“The kicking game was the thing that worried me the most, when the game was in a to-and-fro situation, that’s when you feel it the most.
“They weren’t making mistakes, they weren’t making errors and we were.
Cartwright said his side put in a commendable effort considering the rising injury toll.
“We were under interchange trouble and we couldn’t make many changes in the second-half and they just wore us down,'' he said.
“Brad’s (Takairangi) hamstring tightened up on him, and Benny Ridge has a pectoral problem too, he couldn’t come back out in the second-half, all things considered, we were really under the pump replacement wise as the game wore on.
“To win there tonight under those circumstances would have been enormous for us, but not to be.
“We have a good long turn around now, we’ve had a hard five weeks and with a good long turnaround we will be fresh for Parramatta next week.”
iSelect Gold Coast Titans co-captain Nate Myles also refused to give excuses for the loss and said the side's short five-day turnaround heading into the match had not affected his side.
“We were fresh as for tonight we just weren’t working together,'' said Myles.
"I think it started pretty positive tonight. I think our game was on there in the first five or ten minutes we were looking really good, it felt good, but then we just sort of fell away from a lot of things.
“We weren’t really up to where a lot of people think we are which is good for us, we need to go back and keep working hard.”
The Titans opened the scoring through a piece of individual brilliance by Kelly, who broke through three Broncos defenders, before chip-kicking over Norman’s head to miraculously scoop the ball up to score next to the posts.
With regular goal kicker Sezer out of the match, goal-kicking duties fell to Greg Bird and he made light work of his first kick to give the home side a 6-0 lead after 15 minutes.
The Broncos responded minutes later, after Josh Hoffman found space out-wide before passing to Peter Wallace to score next to the posts to tie the game up at 6-all with 20 minutes remaining in the opening half.
Back-to-back sets gifted the Titans ample attacking opportunity and on the back of a quick Bird play-the-ball, crafty utility-hooker Beau Falloon caught the Broncos defence napping to burrow his way across the line under the posts, giving his side a 12-6 lead with under ten minutes remaining.
With ball-in-hand, the Broncos continued to attack the Titans right-side defence, and their strategy payed off when winger Hoffman scored out wide to reel the Titans lead back to 12-10 with four minutes remaining.
The game heated up in the last minute of the half, with Broncos centre Justin Hodges taking objection to a tackle from Bird on his winger Maranta.
With the ensuing penalty, the Broncos had one-last crack at the Titans, but the home-side’s defence held strong to give them a 12-10 half-time lead.
The Broncos shot to the lead early in the second-half, when barnstorming forward Matt Gillett ran into a gaping hole to score, and with Scott Prince adding the extras the Titans trailed 16-12 with just over 30 minutes remaining.
On the back of repeat sets inside the Titans half, Norman’s halves skills were on display when he threw a double-pump pass to put Hodges in untouched to extend their lead out to 20-12 with ten minutes remaining.
With the run of possession in their favour, the Broncos posted two late tries through Andrew McCullough and Nick Slyney to take the final winning margin out to 20 points.
The Titans will look to hit-back when they take on the Parramatta Eels at Skilled Park next Sunday.
Brisbane Broncos 32 (P Wallace, J Hoffman, M Gillett, J Hodges, A McCullough, N Slynley; S Prince 4 conversions) defeated Gold Coast Titans 12 (A Kelly, B Falloon; G Bird 2 conversions).