The Titans have buried the Broncos with a points avalanche in their trial match in Redcliffe, piling on 28 unanswered points for a high-quality 28-22 win at Dolphin Stadium.
The Titans trailed 16-0 after 23 minutes, but roared home with some excellent football – including five tries in 25 minutes – to shut the Broncos out of the game and take the win in the vital final hit-out before the Round 1 assignment against the Raiders in Canberra.
The Broncos pegged one try back in the 77th minute to reduce the margin to just six points, but it was not a true indicator of the Gold Coast’s dominance.
There were several standout performances from the Titans, but you would have been hard-pressed to find a poor performance.
This new-look team under coach Justin Holbrook is a mile away from the depths of despair they plunged to last season.
The Titans looked polished and classy in attack, and most importantly, robust in defence.
After a good showing at the NRL Nines in Perth, the clash with the full-strength Broncos team was the first full-scale 13-on-13 hit-out for Holbrook’s Titans.
And they were mightily impressive.
Any win over “big brother” Brisbane is always special, particularly for a Titans team rebuilding confidence after last season.
And the stage is set for a genuine blockbuster at Cbus Super Stadium in Round 3 when these two teams meet again – with a late all-in brawl showing the depth of feeling between the two clubs – even in a per-season trial.
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After clawing their way back to within touching distance at halftime, the Titans only needed two minutes after the break to draw level, with Mitch Rein scooting out of dummy-half to score beside the posts.
It was a simple execution built on quality football and composure from the Titans to start the second half, and set the tone for the next 40 minutes.
Five minutes later, the Titans were in again, with Jai Arrow slamming the ball over the line after pushing through some weak Broncos defence close to the line, pushing the Gold Coast into the lead for the first time at 22-16.
It looked like Jarrod Wallace had released the pressure valve by coughing the ball up on the first ruck after the restart, but the Titans were again good enough, tough enough and resilient enough to force an error from the Broncos and kept the Brisbane attack at bay.
Wallace then more than redeemed himself in the 55th minute though, delivering a lovely off-load as part of a sweeping attacking play that saw Dale Copley cross in the left corner.
Ash Taylor drilled the conversion from the sideline chalk to give the Titans breathing room at 28-16 in front, and while there was still 25 minutes to play, the Titans rarely took their foot off the Broncos’ throats – controlling the rest of the game.
The Broncos shot out to a 16-0 lead after 23 minutes, which was something of a shock to the Titans who had dominated the early stages of the contest.
Starting props Jarrod Wallace and Sam Lisone – in his first game as a Titan – laid the platform, and there were plenty of Titans chipping in to help with the work.
The Gold Coast were playing well, defending solidly and keeping Brisbane under pressure, but the Broncos were good enough to fully exploit any Titans errors that were offered.
The first was in the eighth minute when the Titans allowed a high-ball to go uncontested, leading to a lottery bounce that found the Gold Coast short on defensive numbers on the left edge.
Brisbane moved quickly, and an excellent put down from Xavier Coates in the corner had the Broncos on the board.
It was a similar story in the 17th minute when the Titans were sucker-punched by a clever scrum play from Brisbane. In the 23rd minute, Brisbane made the most of Jai Arrow’s sin-binning and crossed again through Tom Flegler.
At 16-0, it would have been easy for Titans fans to think “here we go again”, but looking a little deeper than the scoreboard, it was clear that – costly errors aside, the Titans were well in the match right across the park.
Typically, and fittingly in the week he was announced as the new Titans team captain, it was Kevin Proctor who showed the way forward, punching through on the left edge to score in the 30th minute.
There was nothing flashy from Proctor – it was just a simple, hard run one pass off the ruck. But in all honesty, that is probably as refreshing a sight for Titans fans as any length-of-the-field effort after the tough times of last season.
Tyrone Roberts was instrumental in the lead-up using good footwork to put plenty of questions to Brisbane’s right-edge defenders. When he was caught, Proctor was locked and loaded to shoot through the line to score.
Ash Taylor calmly potted the conversion from out wide, and the Titans visibly grew in confidence.
For Titans fans wondering what to expect from former Warriors prop Lisone, there was reason to get excited.
In his first stint, he continually charged into the teeth of the Broncos’ defence making good yards through the guts, and the much-talked about aggression was on full display in the 34th minute when he flattened Brisbane fullback Jack Bird with a bellringer on the halfway line.
As the half wore on and confidence grew, the real Titans stood up, and the try to Anthony Don two minutes before the break was a fitting reward for a Titans team finding its groove under Justin Holbrook.
Taking a quick tap, Taylor danced to the right and found Bryce Cartwright, who dished out some aggressive fends to keep the Broncos defence at bay.
With a bit of space to work in, Cartwright then hit Kallum Watkins with a lovely flick pass – the Englishman then delivering a classy draw-and-pass to put Don over in the corner, and put the Titans on 16-10 down at the break.
TITANS 28 (Kevin Proctor, Anthony Don, Mitch Rein, Jai Arrow, Dale Copley tries; Ash Taylor 4 goals) d BRONCOS 22 (Xavier Coates, Jake Turpin Tom Flegler, Herbie Farnsworth tries; Katoni Staggs 2, Jamayne Isaako goals) at Dolphin Stadium, Redcliffe.