Broncos v Titans: Five key points
The Broncos finally put the brave Titans to bed, the Hayne plane hits turbulence, a penalty try divides opinion and luck conspires against Gold Coast.
Patient Broncos put Titans to bed
They had to know it was coming but once Brisbane absorbed the initial onslaught from the Titans they settled into their work and meticulously went about dismantling Gold Coast's defence to keep their Telstra Premiership title hopes alive.
Needing to arrest their slow starts the Titans had all the early running to lead 6-0 but when their former teammate James Roberts sliced through to set up Brisbane's first try the tide of momentum swung the way of the home side.
Every shift to the left looked as though it would end with an Anthony Milford line break while the likes of Josh McGuire, Adam Blair and Jarrod Wallace bent the Titans' line back with each hit-up through the middle.
Phil Gould called for the mercy rule as the Titans took punch after punch yet still refused to yield before Anthony Milford sealed the deal with a fortunate four-pointer nine minutes from full-time.
Ryan James claimed a piece of history when his 12th try made him the greatest try-scoring forward in a single season and the 44-28 scoreline equalled the highest-scoring final of all time but as hard as they tried the Gold Coast were unable to keep pace with a team whose next assignment will be a match-up against the loser of the Storm and Cowboys on Saturday night.
Hayne plane hits turbulence
After his team had bravely fought their way back into the contest and he played a leading hand in giving them a half-time advantage, Jarryd Hayne came up with a fumble from the kick-off that put his side squarely on the back foot.
Having kicked out on the full early in the game, Hayne worked his way back into the contest with some classy touches, including a short ball for Chris McQueen and a kick for Josh Hoffman's try in the 38th minute, but it all turned sour on resumption.
Hayne's basic error gifted Brisbane possession 15 metres out and it took only three tackles before Alex Glenn was able to spear over and but the Broncos back in front.
He was stiffed when a superb cut-out pass to Konrad Hurrell late in the game was called forward but the way his season finished may provide the pre-season fuel to get back to his absolute best in 2017.
Wallace a hero, and a villain
He will be a driving force in the Titans' charge in 2017 but on Friday night Jarrod Wallace gave Brisbane fans a performance to savour.
With his team under pressure in the opening exchanges Wallace came on and gave Brisbane some much-needed grunt in the middle, bending the Titans defence with his first two charges and crashing over for a rare four-pointer in the 27th minute courtesy of a perfectly-timed pass from Corey Parker.
After Alex Glenn scored he busted through some Titans tacklers from the kick-off and earned his team a penalty, finishing with 109 metres and 15 tackles in 40 minutes of high quality work.
Broncos penalty try divides opinion
NRL referees boss Tony Archer took the unusual step of explaining a decision to award Jordan Kahu a penalty try in the 10th minute after Konrad Hurrell was ruled to have kicked out in preventing Kahu from grounding the football.
Six tackles after a decision to award the Titans a scrum feed on the Broncos' 10-metre line was overturned by the Bunker, a James Roberts mid-field bust came to an end five metres short of the try-line, Roberts popping back up to offload to Kahu who reached out to score.
As Kahu went to ground the ball Hurrell clearly kicked the ball from his grasp, Archer confirming that the penalty try decision was the correct one.
"The kick by Konrad Hurrell dispossesses the player of the ball as the ball is over the line," Archer told Channel Nine.
"The unfair play is the kick so from our view it's certainly a penalty try."
The decision joins a list of contentious penalty tries awarded in NRL finals with Jamie Lyon the beneficiary in Manly's 2013 Grand Final loss to the Roosters and the most famous, Craig Smith's try for the Storm in the 1999 Grand Final against St George-Illawarra.
Titans finally run out of luck
It started going wrong before kick-of and Gold Coast's luck didn't improve as the game went on.
Back-rower Zeb Taia was ruled out with a quad injury suffered in the warm-up and replaced by Ryan Simpkins, who only minutes earlier had been told his place on the bench had been taken by Nathaniel Peteru.
Josh Hoffman's claim for first try was overturned by the Bunker who also intervened when the Titans had been awarded a scrum on Brisbane's 10-metre line and Chris McQueen suffered a nasty poke in the eye as James Roberts sliced through in the lead-up to the Broncos' opening try.
Half Ashley Taylor suffered a heavy knock by Andrew McCullough after kicking late in the first half and was unable to return with Ryan Simpkins also forced from the field after coming off second best in trying to stop a rampaging Jarrod Wallace.
A Ben Hunt grubber bobbled in the in-goal long enough for Alex Glenn to land a killer blow and when Corey Oates leapt up spectacularly to take a Tyrone Roberts bomb David Mead was penalised for putting him in a dangerous position.
Even after they got back within 12 points a Milford attempt at field goal was charged down by Ryan James and rather than falling safely into Greg Bird's waiting arms was spilled a metre out from the line for Milford to pick up and score.
It was simply one of those nights on the night when you can least afford it to happen.