Gold Coast Titans v Brisbane Broncos
Cbus Super Stadium
Friday, 7.35pm (Qld)
The Easter migration of Brisbane-ites to the Gold Coast takes on extra significance this Good Friday with Wayne Bennett piloting the Broncos' bus to Cbus Super Stadium in search of a fourth consecutive win and a spot in the Telstra Premiership top four.
Both teams are coming off last-start wins in Round 4 although the merit of Brisbane's win over the Warriors in Auckland carries greater weight than the Titans' victory in Cronulla that James Roberts literally stole from the grasp of the Sharks with an intercept try in the dying stages.
But there is no room for pictures on the scoreboard and for a club that has endured more bad press in the past three months than most clubs would experience in a decade two competition points was all that mattered for the Titans.
There are a number of big omissions for both teams with international pair Justin Hodges (hamstring) and Adam Blair (corked thigh) ruled out for the Broncos with their places in the starting team taken by Dale Copley (returning from a calf injury) and Sam Thaiday. Former Storm prop Mitchell Garbutt has been named by Bennett to make his Broncos debut on a five-man bench that also includes Mitchell Dodds and Francis Molo.
The Titans will be without hooker Beau Falloon for the next fortnight due to suspension with Kierran Moseley brought straight back into the starting team after missing last week's win with a knee complaint.
Titans coach Neil Henry has named a six-man bench with forwards Matthew White and Lachlan Burr also in the frame for selection.
Watch Out Titans: He is perhaps an unheralded member of the Broncos squad but Alex Glenn has risen to the challenge posed to him by Wayne Bennett to be one of Brisbane's most valuable contributors through the first month of footy. In three of four games he has made the most metres of any of the Broncos forwards and with a line break, try assist and offload on the left edge has become the go-to man for five-eighth Anthony Milford.
Watch Out Broncos: Three individual pieces of brilliance provided the difference between winning and losing; that's what James Roberts brings to a team. His off-field indiscretions and attitude in defence can be questioned at times but there's no doubt Roberts is a match-winner and the Titans desperately need the 22-year-old speedster to deliver more often than not. He scores tries due to his sheer speed where many players simply couldn't but the Titans need a complete 80 minutes from him to upset a confident Broncos outfit.
Key Match-up: Greg Bird v Corey Parker. With more than 500 NRL matches between them this shapes as a match-up between two ultra-competitive lock forwards who know every trick in the trade to give their team the edge. After the disappointment of losing to the Rabbitohs in his 300th game in Round 1, Parker has been integral in guiding the Broncos to three consecutive wins while Bird – on his old stomping ground in Cronulla – was one of the Titans' best in their win over the Sharks last week. Both men love an offload – Parker had six last week alone – so look for them to spark plenty of second-phase play.
History: Played 17; Titans 5; Broncos 12. It was an auspicious start for the Titans against the Broncos with a 28-16 win at Suncorp in their first meeting but regular victories have been hard to come by since. In 12 of their 17 meetings they have been separated at half-time by eight points or fewer and the Broncos' record at Robina stands at four wins from eight previous visits.
Did You Know: There are just eight players to have represented both the Titans and Broncos since 2007. Luke Capewell, Ashley Harrison, Josh Hoffman, Brad Meyers, Steve Michaels, Scott Prince, Dave Taylor and Chris Walker are the only players to have pulled on the jerseys for both current south-east Queensland teams. David Hala is in line to become the ninth when he makes his return from a knee injury and plays his first game for the Titans.
What Are The Odds: Titans ($2.35) v Broncos ($1.55). Ninety per cent of the Sportsbet hold is with the Broncos and you can expect their price to shorten further as we approach kick off. Sportsbet reports nearly all of the money in handicap betting has been placed on the Broncos at -5.5. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match Officials: Referee: Ashley Klein; Assistant Referee: Alan Shortall; Touch Judges: Michael Wise and Clayton Sharpe; Video Referees: Steve Clark and Ben Galea.
Televised: Channel Nine – Live 7.30pm (Qld); Live 8.30pm (NSW)
The Way We See It: Given the Broncos' gutsy win over the Warriors in New Zealand and the dramatic escape by the Titans against the Sharks it is hard to tip a win for the home side. Halfback Kane Elgey will come under plenty of scrutiny from the hard-nosed Broncos forwards and given it is the start of a long weekend the visitors may find themselves with plenty of support. Gold Coast will make them earn it but the growing belief in Brisbane should be enough to see them home. Broncos by eight points.