Broncos ready for Queensland derby
The Brisbane Broncos are ready to take on the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night in an elimination final that has all the makings of a classic Queensland derby.
It's big brother v little brother in what will be only the second time the two sides have met in a finals series, with Brisbane winning their only other finals meeting 40-32 in 2009.
A lot has changed since the Broncos beat the Titans in Round 5, including Brisbane experiencing a drop in form that saw them lose seven of nine matches over the State of Origin period.
Despite this hiccup, Wayne Bennett's men enter the finals high on confidence after putting together five wins in a row – missing a top four position only by for and against.
It's an enviable position, especially for the Titans who have lost four of their last five and enter sudden-death football out of form.
Broncos halfback Ben Hunt said Brisbane have turned themselves into a tough football side, and the 26-year-old is confident hard work will get his side the desired result on Friday night.
"We've changed over the last month. We are a lot grittier and we're willing to grind out a game. It's the character you want heading into the finals," Hunt said.
"You're not always going to play pretty, but if you are willing to knuckle down in defence and play some tough footy then you'll get what you want from it. It's all about working hard.
"It was a good sign for us to have a comeback win like the one we had on Thursday night against the Roosters.
"We trailed 14-0 but always knew we could make a comeback. We were ordinary with the ball but we defended well.
"We managed to hang in there and get a 10-point win, and that's a really good sign for us heading into the finals."
The Broncos will be eager to go one better after falling at the final hurdle in 2015.
That one-point golden point grand final loss is driving Brisbane to right their wrongs and their road to redemption will begin on Friday in front of close to 50,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
Hunt said last year's learning curve will inspire his side to be at their best when it counts the most.
"I learned a lot last year," he said.
"We handled things poorly at different stages of the finals last year. We'll have to change a few things.
"I'm really looking forward to it and I think we are building in the right direction.
"Finals are a different intensity. It's on another level.
"That Storm game we played a couple of weeks ago was at a finals-level intensity so that was a good warm-up.
"You have to be at your best to win in the finals, if not, you're out."