Titans v Broncos: Five key points
The Broncos' defensive wall continues to hold firm, Anthony Milford battles a perception he has been down on confidence and Titans back-rower Ryan James is being discussed as an Origin bolter... again.
Strong early defence sets the tone
It's almost a given in the modern game that if you can absorb early pressure and keep your defensive line unbroken, points will invariably follow at the other end. The Titans hammered away at the Broncos' line for the first quarter of the game and came up with nought, before Brisbane scored three tries in the space of six minutes when they finally got their hands on the ball.
A Titans try directly from a Broncos error in the 34th minute was just the second first-half try Brisbane have conceded in their past four games.
"I always think that's probably the way the game works, get strength from your defence. It gives you confidence," said Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.
Titans skipper Nate Myles said: "We started well but definitely the polish on our attack is the downfall for us."
"We're building pressure but not consistently and when we do let them off we really let them off."
No issues with Milford's confidence
He had not yet displayed the same spark in his first month at the Broncos that was regularly on show with the Raiders last year but any suggestion Anthony Milford was down on confidence was a fabric of the media's imagination. That was the assertion of Broncos coach Wayne Bennett after a match in which Milford opened his try-scoring account at Brisbane with a first half-double and finished the match with a game-high five tackle busts.
"I didn't think he was un-confident anyway. You guys (the media) are running his career at the moment and we're just on the sidelines," Bennett said.
Stand-in skipper Corey Parker was a little more expansive on Milford's performance, highlighting the platform laid by the Broncos' forwards.
"The monkey is off his back now from you guys but if the guys in the middle aren't doing their job it makes it very hard for those two guys (Milford and Ben Hunt) to create," Parker said.
"Fortunately tonight there were some opportunities for them off the back of some quick play-the-balls and they fed off that."
Sezer and Elgey worth persevering with
He cut something of a disconsolate figure at the Titans' post-match function but the addition of Kane Elgey into the halves alongside Aidan Sezer looks to be a combination worth sticking with. First-choice halfback Daniel Mortimer is not expected to be available for selection for another fortnight with a wrist injury, but Elgey has shown enough in two games to suggest he brings an extra dimension to the Gold Coast attack.
The 21-year-old challenged the line with his running game and has a more varied kicking game than Mortimer, but Titans coach Neil Henry said that it remains a steep learning curve.
"I thought defensively at times he was quite good but he is young and inexperienced," Henry said.
"It's all new to him but he's our option at the moment and with 'Morts' out in particular we're not flush with other options. In saying that, he's gaining confidence and he's certainly got the support of his teammates."
Copley's defence worthy of regular centre spot
It was the only question mark over his ability to nail down a regular spot in the centres last season but Dale Copley's strength in defence against the Titans highlighted the need to find a permanent place for him one spot in from the wing. Brought in for the injured Justin Hodges, Copley delivered some crunching hits on the likes of Ryan James, William Zillman and Josh Hoffman as well as having two tackle busts and running 95 metres from limited attacking opportunities. Having missed the past three weeks with a calf injury, a spot needs to be found for Copley even after Hodges' return.
Ryan James is looking Origin worthy... again
Coach Neil Henry described his past two performances as his best games for the club, while captain Nate Myles believes Ryan James is producing the type of football to put him into the frame for New South Wales Origin selection. James was a tower of strength on Friday night, running for 178 metres as well as making 28 tackles, four tackle busts and a line break and Myles had no hesitation in endorsing his Origin credentials.
"His last two weeks he has stepped it up and hopefully he keeps improving because he has that ability," Myles said of his Origin prospects.
"I think Ryan himself is a little bit over people talking about what he can do; he just wants to do it now and he's on his way. I only wish the best for him but he'll be on the other side too."