The Brisbane Broncos have survived a late charge from the injury-hit Gold Coast Titans to claim a 24-16 win at Cbus Super Stadium on Friday night in front of 21,080 fans.
The Titans lost five-eighth Tyrone Roberts to injury during the week then prop David Shillington during the warm-up, and few would have given them much chance of competing with the competition favourites.
Brisbane at one stage led 22-4, but Daniel Mortimer and Zeb Taia got the Titans back into the match, combining twice to get the Gold Coast within six points.
In the end it was the experience of the Broncos side that delivered them the win, with the Brisbane now sitting top of the NRL ladder after tonight's eight-point win.
After a tight 40 minutes, the scoring opened in the second half when Darius Boyd threw a superb cut-out pass to Jordan Kahu, with the 25-year-old crossing in the corner in the 43rd minute. The New Zealand international converted his own try from the sideline to stretch Brisbane's lead to 10.
Broncos super-sub Kodi Nikorima came onto the field in the 56th minute and scored a try in the 57th as he broke the line from dummy half and ran 30 metres to cross in the corner. Kahu again converted from near the sideline and Brisbane jumped out to a 22-4 lead.
In the 63rd minute, Taia found the try-line after a scrappy dummy half pass from Mortimer bounced onto his chest. Taia strolled over untouched and Ashley Taylor converted to make the score 22-10 in Brisbane's favour.
Taia doubled his try count in the 67th minute as Mortimer found the 31-year-old in open space. Taylor converted to cut Brisbane's lead to just six heading into the final 10 minutes.
But the Titans gave away a penalty in the 76th minute and Kahu slotted it to stretch Brisbane's lead to eight and seal a Broncos victory.
Earlier, a tremendous solo effort from James Roberts opened the scoring for the Broncos in the third minute. The 23-year-old beat two Titans defenders and silenced the hostile Gold Coast crowd in the process as Brisbane snuck out to 4-0 lead.
Brisbane almost doubled their lead minutes later, but a crunching tackle from David Mead prevented Corey Oates from getting over the line.
In the 23rd minute, Ben Hunt dummied and broke the Titans' defensive line to score in the right corner. Corey Parker converted from near the right touchline to make it 10-0.
The Titans hit back in the 33rd minute when Taylor put through a beautiful grubber kick and Mead pounced to score his first try of the season.
Brisbane failed to capitalise on a staggering 59 per cent of the possession in the first half, with the Broncos only leading 10-4 at the halftime break after a host of missed chances.
Brisbane Broncos 24 (James Roberts, Ben Hunt, Jordan Kahu, Kodi Nikorima tries; Jordan Kahu 3, Corey Parker goals) def. Gold Coast Titans 16 (Zeb Taia 2, David Mead tries; Ashley Taylor 2 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium. Crowd: 21,080.