A hat-trick to Brisbane Broncos utility Kalolo Saitua has led to Gold Coast Titans under-20s suffering a 44-18 defeat at Cbus Super Stadium tonight.
The young Titans defended bravely in the opening stanza at one stage were forced to defend their line for four successive sets. But with the possession continuing to mount in their favour, the Broncos managed to crack the tired Titans defence to post five first-half tries to edge to a 26-10 half-time lead.
The Titans started the second-half the stronger of the sides, scoring the first try, but they couldn’t contain a barnstorming Broncos outfit who were led up the middle by Saitaua who grabbed his third try in 54th minute to assist the visitors to their 44-18 victory.
The Titans were again affected by injury with back-rower Jackson Clarke forced off in the first half and unable to return to the field.
It was the Titans who posted first points with Jed Cartwright grabbing his fifth try for the season after supporting some impressive play by Karl Lawton who threw an inside ball to Brian Kelly to get in the clear before passing to Cartwright to score out wide to give the Titans an early 4-0 lead.
After a mountain of possession, the Broncos finally managed to break through the Titans defence in the 19th minute with centre Jarryd Dodd ending a blind-side play to score, before Ash Taylor added the extras to give the visitors a 6-4 lead.
The Titans hit-back in the 24th minute with pivot Karl Lawton slicing his way through the Broncos defence to score next to the posts to give Cartwright an easy conversion and a 10-6 lead.
But the visitors responded immediately with Saitaua barging his way across the line to score next to posts to give Taylor an easy conversion and the Broncos a 12-10 lead after 25 minutes.
With the momentum in their favour, the Broncos went back-to-back with centre Jordan Drew completely a crafty backline play to score in the corner to extend the Broncos lead out to 16-10 with under ten minutes of the half remaining.
The Broncos continued their first-half dominance with Jonus Pearson cleaning up a Jayden Nikorima grubber to score out wide to edge the visitors to a 20-10 lead with five minutes remaining in the half.
The Broncos finished the half in style with Saitaua grabbing his second try in the dying minutes of the half to give the Broncos a 26-10 half-time lead.
The Titans started the second-half strong with Zac Spring making a 90 metre intercept before being brought down metres short before gaining a penalty and his side an advantage with the Broncos Pearson getting 10 minutes in the bin for a professional foul.
With the extra man, the Titans took full advantage with Shaun Hudson finishing a back-line play before producing a superman dive to score in the corner to reduce the deficit back to 26-14 after 50 minutes.
But the Broncos hit straight back through Saitaua barging his way under the posts to grab his hat-trick and give his side a 32-14 lead with 25 minutes remaining.
The Broncos attack continued to trouble the Titans defence and they broke through again in the 57th minute with fullback Paul Byrnes scoring a brilliant try to give Taylor an easy conversion and the visitors a 38-14 lead.
The Titans continued to compete and kept their comeback hopes alive with Rory Humphreys burrowing his way through the Broncos defensive line to reel the deficit back to 38-18 with 20 minutes remaining.
But the Broncos put an end to the Titans comeback hopes in the 69th minute with winger Nikau Terupe scoring in the corner before Taylor added the extras to edge the Broncos out to a 44-18 vicotry.
The Titans will look to hit-back next week when they take on the Parramatta Eels at Pirtek Stadium.
Brisbane Broncos 44 (K Saitaua 3, J Dodd, J Drew, J Pearson, P Byrnes, N Terupe tries; A Taylor 6 goals) defeated Gold Coast Titans 18(J Carwright, K Lawton, S Hudson, R Humphreys tries; J Cartwright 1 goals)