The Aquis Gold Coast Titans season has come to a heart-breaking end after suffering a hard-fought 44-28 loss to the Brisbane Broncos in their elimination final at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
In the all Queensland derby, the Titans were courageous in defeat and were forced to play the second-half without Ash Taylor who suffered a hip-injury in the first-half after leading his side around the paddock brilliantly to play a hand in the Titans taking the 18-16 half-time lead.
But with the 43,170 strong crowd behind the Broncos, they shot out of the sheds to start the second-half strongly to produce a high energy brand of football depriving the Titans of possession as they posted five second-half tries to two to come away with the win to stay alive in the NRL Finals series.
The Titans suffered an early blow losing Zeb Taia in the warm-up to a calf-injury meaning a late call-up for utility Ryan Simpkins to start on the bench.
Despite the late re-shuffle the Titans started the match strongly and got across the line in the second minute with Josh Hoffman getting the ball down after a Broncos error. But the bunker denied Hoffman his eighth try of the season ruling a double knock-on but the Titans would get the ball back through a goal-line dropout.
There was no stopping the Titans in the following set with Tyrone Roberts putting in a deft attacking kick to the left edge which was fumbled in-goal by Corey Oates before the ball bounced nicely for Chris McQueen to clean up the scraps and score the first points of the night. Roberts then stepped up to add the extras to give the Titans a 6-0 lead after four minutes of play.
The Broncos hit-back in controversial fashion to lock the scores up at 6-all in the 11th minute with a penalty try to Jordan Kahu on the back of a James Roberts break. In his first touch the former Titan, Roberts sliced through the defence only to be chased down by Jarryd Hayne but the speedy centre got an offload away to Kahu who got across the line where the referees ruled Konrad Hurrell stopped him from scoring the try by using his feet thus awarding the penalty try.
A penalty piggy-backed the Titans up-field and they took full advantage in the 15th minute with David Mead racing through to ground a clever Taylor grubber before Roberts added the extras to give the Titans a 12-6 lead.
The Titans looked to get a full-set on the Broncos defensive line after a Hayne bust but the knock-on call was overturned and the Broncos got the ball through a scrum. From the resulting set the Broncos made a break through Anthony Milford and on the back of the quick play-the-ball Kahu crossed in the corner to reduce the Titans lead to 12-10 with 16 minutes remaining.
The Broncos capitalised on forcing repeat sets in the 27th minute with Titans’ bound forward Jarrod Wallace running a brave line to break through the defence and score under the posts to give Kahu an easy conversion and the Broncos a 16-12 lead.
It went from bad-to-worse for the Titans with Taylor being forced from the field with a hip-injury after being left behind after copping a hit from Andrew McCullough after getting a kick away.
But under pressure on their line, the Titans turned defence into attack in the final minutes of the half with Greg Bird taking an intercept from a Sam Thaiday pass. On the back of his break Hayne put a deft cross-field kick to Hoffman and the there was no denying him on this occasion. With Roberts adding the extras the Titans took a slim 18-16 lead into the break.
It was a bad start to the half for the Titans with Hayne knocking the ball on from the kick-off. From the resulting set the Broncos crossed to take the lead back after McCullough threw a lovely pass to Alex Glenn who to slice through the Titans defence to score before Kahu added the extras for a 22-18 lead.
With the momentum in their favour, the Broncos extended their lead in the 51st minute with Glenn cleaning up the scraps of a Hunt grubber in-goal to grab his second-try of the night. With Kahu adding the extras the Broncos took a 28-18 lead going into the final 28minutes.
The Broncos received a fortunate penalty down their end when Oates knocked the ball on as he and Mead contested the high-ball. On the back of the penalty the Broncos marched up the field and crossed in the 62nd minute with Darius Boyd throwing a lovely cut-out pass to Oates to score in the corner before Kahu converted for a 34-18 lead.
The Titans weren’t going down without a fight and on the back of a penalty they went on the attack for the first time of the half and took full advantage with hookers Nathan Peats and Nathan Friends combining before Peats threw a perfect short-pass to McQueen to barge over for his second and reduce the deficit back to 34-22 going into the final 14minutes of play.
The Broncos put an end to the Titans comeback efforts in the 70th minute as Milford’s field-goal attempt was charged down but as like the rest of the match the luck was with the home-side and Milford cleaned up the scraps to score next to the posts to give Kahu an easy kick and his side a 40-22 lead.
But the heart of the Titans was on display going into the final minutes of the match and the converted effort into points in the 74th minute with Ryan James getting across the line for his 12th try of the season to break the record for most tries for a prop in a season and reduce the deficit back to 40-28.
With little time left on the clock the Titans were forced to play risky footy and a Hurrell pass deep inside his own half bounced perfectly for Oates to score his second of the night to give the Broncos the 44-28 victory and keep the side alive in the finals’ series.
Brisbane Broncos 44 (J Kahu 2, A Glenn 2, C Oates 2, J Wallace, A Milford tries; J Kahu 6 goals) defeated Gold Coast Titans 28 (C McQueen 2, D Mead, J Hoffman, R James tries; T Roberts 4 goals)