A courageous Gold Coast rediscovered their trademark grit, tackling their way to a 26-18 local derby win over the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
The Titans exorcised their Magic Round demons, when they lost to Cronulla after leading at halftime, to lead the Broncos all the way to post consecutive wins away from home.
The Titans were terrific, and any win over the “big brother” Broncos is a reason to celebrate, particularly when a win over one of the competition heavyweights – who beat the Roosters and Warriors in their last two starts – keeps the Gold Coast’s top-eight hopes alive.
Brian Kelly was the star of the show, with two tries – including the match-sealer out of dummy-half in the 64th minute - but prop Moeaki Fotuaika was simply enormous for the Gold Coast, ripping into the Broncos pack to lay the foundations for the win.
Skipper Tyrone Roberts, prop Jarrod Wallace and fullback AJ Brimson were other top performers in the best Gold Coast win of the season.
The Titans had major reshuffle to their line-up before the match, with Ash Taylor, Bryce Cartwright and Shannon Boyd all late withdrawals.
Nathan Peats and Jack Stockwell were brought into the squad, with Peats moving straight back into the starting hooker he vacated in Round 2 when he tore his pectoral muscle in a training accident in the gym.
It was more disruption the Titans could have done without, after another tough week of dramas and distractions.
But, probably fitting for a team from the Gold Coast, the Titans seem to thrive on a combination of choppy waters and fine weather, with a sun-drenched Suncorp Stadium seeing the visitors fly out to a stunning 18-6 lead at halftime.
Roberts was again in the thick of, combining well with new halfback partner Ryley Jacks to steer the Titans around the field, and scoring a brilliant individual try to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.
The Titans looked as sharp as they have all season and, aside from a period in the middle of the first term where a lack of discipline looked set to bite them, did well to repel a number of raids from the Broncos.
Twice when the Titans turned the Broncos away from try-scoring opportunities, the Gold Coast used the momentum to turn around and march down the other field to post points themselves.
The first was in the 13th minute, when Brian Kelly snaffled a neat grubber from Brimson to score out wide on the left edge just minutes after the Broncos had been denied at the other end.
The momentum looked to be all with the Gold Coast when Roberts blasted through with a brilliant 35-metre run through the middle of Brisbane’s ruck to score under the posts to take the lead out to 12-0 after 24 minutes.
It was the captain’s 600th career point, and was the first time Roberts had scored against Brisbane. He could not have picked a more opportune time to post both milestones with the Titans desperate for a win to keep their season alive.
But as has happened so often this season, warning lights started to flash as the Titans should have put the foot on the throat with a healthy lead.
Errors were made and compounded with more errors, delivering Brisbane the position and possession they needed to get back into the game through a try to Jake Turpin.
But the Titans managed to regroup and their defensive resolve was again rewarded.
Gold Coast earned a seven-tackle set by holding the Broncos at bay, and promptly marched straight downfield again, with Anthony Don crashing over in the right corner – and Roberts booting the conversion from the sideline – to steady the Titans’ ship and give them an 18-6 lead just a minute from the break.
TITANS 26 (Brian Kelly 2, Tyrone Roberts, Anthony Don tries; Roberts 5 goals) d BRONCOS 18 (Jake Turpin, Katoni Staggs, Anthony Milford tries; Jamayne Isaako 3 goals) at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. Crowd: 30,048.