Gold Coast were too fast, too experienced and just too good for the Baby Broncos on Friday evening, rolling over the visitors in the South-East Queensland derby at Robina's Skilled Park.
Missing all their big names bar Justin Hodges and Corey Parker, Brisbane battled hard but just didn't have the cattle. Ivan Henjak will be pleased with the resolve of his side in trying for the full 80 minutes. But on this showing his club does not have the depth to threaten the 2009 Telstra Premiership.
The Gold Coast played near faultless football for the first 60 minutes, extending to a 34-2 lead. They ran hard and straight and their hands were safe, with Scott Prince at his brilliant best.
Perhaps it was complacency that allowed the Broncos to rally with three tries at the death. But when you’re no chance of losing it’s understandable. But John Cartwright is correct in saying when his team puts together the full 80-minute package, they'll give this competition a good old shake.
The Game Swung When… With Sam Thaiday, Karmichael Hunt, Peter Wallace, Tonie Carroll, Nick Kenny, PJ Marsh, Israel Folau and Darren Lockyer not playing, the Broncos were always going to be pushing a rusty canoe up a river. Scott Prince ran riot, orchestrating tries in the 11th, 14th, 20th and 30th minutes, scoring one himself just after half-time, before playing a hand again when the Titans pulled off a sweeping backline play that saw Kevin Gordon score. Prince kicked five from six and by the 57th minute it was 34-2. Which was plenty.
Who Was Hot… The Gold Coast rode roughshod over the inexperienced Broncos, showing no quarter, sparing no-one. Playmaker Prince was in princely form with four first-half try-assists and a try.
Anthony Laffranchi (20 runs, 139 metres, 26 tackles) had one of his best games of the season while Luke Bailey bustled the ball into the meat of the Broncos’ line with venom. His fellow bookend Michael Henderson also had a good game, offloading a game-high three times.
The Broncos were best served by Hodges, who received the ball 34 times for 178 metres and laid on a brilliant try assist, and giant tyro Dave Taylor who made 12 runs for 143 metres. Joel Clinton, Parker and Ben Te'o tried hard in a pack that wasn't disgraced.
Who Was Not… Hard to be critical of the Broncos, they fielded half a Toyota Cup team and completed 83 per cent of their sets. They had a fair crack – but were flogged like convicts.
Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… In the 30th minute Prince ran blind and fired a beautiful spiral cut-out ball that hit Kevin Gordon on the chest who went over out wide.
In the 60th minute Zillman pulled off an amazing bootlace tackle on barnstorming prop Taylor who looked certain to score.
And in the last minute Hodges, looking the other way in-field, flicked a ball backwards from the base of the ruck and hit teenage winger Dale Copley on the chest. Speccie play from the quality centre. Why has no-one thought of doing it before?
Bad Boys… Laffranchi was put on report for a dangerous throw; he was later charged by the match review committee and will miss a week on the sidelines with an early guilty plea.
Refs Watch… Jarred Maxwell and Bernard Sutton had pretty good games, as did video ref Tim Mander. They could make a case for their decisions. You can't ask more.
NRL.com Best & Fairest… 3 points – Anthony Laffranchi (Titans): A high-energy 80 minutes from a non-stop competitor; 2 points – Scott Prince (Titans): Had a hand in each of the Titans’ six tries. All class; 1 point – William Zillman (Titans): Incisive running in attack, quality work at the back.
Titans 34 (M Minichiello, A Harrison, M Henderson, K Gordon, S Prince, E Tonga tries; S Prince 5 goals) def Brisbane 18 (A Winterstein 2, D Copley tries; C Parker 2, A Gorrell goals) at Skilled Park. Crowd: 26,336.