Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook praised the patience and skill of his new team to fight back even when their backs were against the wall in a spirited 28-22 trial win over Brisbane on Saturday night.
Holbrook took plenty of positives away from his club's final preseason trial with the performances of Mitch Rein, Jai Arrow, Bryce Cartwright, Kallum Watkins, Sam Lisone and Ashley Taylor laying the foundation for a strong rebuild for the Titans in 2020.
The Titans trailed 16-0 after 23 minutes and although Holbrook felt his men were the better team for the entire night, their dominance turned into points with five tries in 26 minutes as they put to bed a disappointing Broncos outfit.
In years past a 16-0 early deficit would turn into a meek defeat for the Titans, but Holbrook's men never dropped their heads and fought back in the strongest possible way to secure a confidence-building win.
Match: Broncos v Titans
Round 3 -
Venue: Dolphin Stadium, Brisbane
Holbrook was pleased with his team's performance and said they would take confidence from the game into round one against Canberra in a fortnight.
"It didn't matter if we won or lost tonight, it was how we played. I thought it was outstanding to come back from that and sort of went on with it," Holbrook said.
"I thought we were the better side the first 10 or 12 minutes, we just clocked off on the last play and it got us. A dumb effort on the scrum got us and before we knew it we were down 16-0 and I actually felt like we were playing alright.
"I wanted them to stay patient, I thought we forced a couple of things early on and that was only for a couple of minutes and we just got on with it.
"Even at 16-0 down I thought we were the better side, so I wasn't unhappy.
"It was a great effort from the boys to play the way we did and come back.
"There was some great defence but also some great skill with the ball. We've been working hard on both those areas and good to see it come out tonight."
Rein was instrumental in the attacking spark, while Lisone led the way up front in his first game for the club since joining from the Warriors last week.
Taylor played the full 80 minutes and got involved at every opportunity, while Cartwright and Watkins combined well to offer some skill and speed on the Titans right edge.
"Obviously [Lisone] had a lot of adrenaline being at a new club but if I can get that from him every week I will be happy," Holbrook said.
"I thought [Taylor] was good, he had a good solid game for us and that's what we need from him."
Among the highlights for the Titans was the way second-rower Cartwright freely carried the ball, drifting across the field and offloading at will.
Maligned for the way he's played since arriving at the Titans, Holbrook said it was important to embrace the skill and creative play of the former Penrith junior.
"I've been impressed with Carty since the start of preseason and I think people want to talk about things he can't do but let's talk about things he can do and he showed that tonight and he showed that all preseason," Holbrook said.
"He is a great player, Carty, and I'm happy he is in our side."