The Brisbane Broncos have booked their spot in the semi-finals with a 44-28 win over the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
In what was their last match at Lang Park for this season, the Broncos gave retiring captain Corey Parker a great send off in front of over 43,000 adoring fans.
But Wayne Bennett's men didn't have it all their own way, with the Titans putting in a spirited performance that resulted in the underdogs leading 18-16 at half-time.
The Gold Coast had to play the whole second half without halfback Ashley Taylor, with the Titans young gun succumbing to a hip injury that he suffered off an Andrew McCullough hit late in the first half.
The loss of Taylor was compounded when Jarryd Hayne began the second half by knocking on off the kick-off. McCullough found Alex Glenn with a terrific short ball soon after, and Glenn scored untouched next to the posts. Jordan Kahu converted the try to give Brisbane a 22-18 lead in the 43rd minute.
Corey Oates bombed a try minutes later, knocking on over the try line with no Gold Coast defenders in sight.
Glenn got his second in the 51st minute, pouncing on a Ben Hunt grubber kick next to the posts. Kahu converted to give his side a 10-point lead as the Broncos started to assert their dominance.
Oates secured victory for Brisbane in the 63rd minute, with the 21-year-old the beneficiary of a sublime Darius Boyd cut-out ball to cross in the corner. Kahu converted excellently from the sideline and suddenly Brisbane's lead was 16.
But the Titans quickly hit back, with Nathan Peats finding McQueen with a short ball that resulted in his second four-pointer of the night. Tyrone Roberts failed to convert and the Gold Coast trailed by 12 inside the last 15 minutes.
A missed Anthony Milford field goal in the 69th minute resulted in another Broncos try, with the 22-year-old chasing down his own kick and scoring next to the posts when Greg Bird failed to defuse the situation.
The topsy-turvy second half continued in the 74th minute as Ryan James scored under the posts. In the process he broke the record for the most tries by a prop in a single season, taking his tally to 12. Roberts converted over the black dot to cut the Broncos' lead to 12.
However, that joy was short-lived, with David Mead knocking on as he brought the ball out of his own end. Oates picked up the knock on and dived over in the corner to give Brisbane a 44-28 lead with a minute to go.
The score stayed that way, but the Titans can hold their heads high after putting in a superb first half despite some big adversities.
The night started disastrously for the Titans, losing Zeb Taia in the warm-up to a quad strain. But that setback proved anything but costly, with the Gold Coast starting the match on fire.
They gave the Broncos an early scare, with a Jonus Pearson mistake off a towering Taylor cross-field bomb almost resulting in the Titans' first points of the night.
The Titans were denied on that occasion but they scored the first points of the game just a minute later, when Oates spilled a Tyrone Roberts cross-field kick and McQueen was on the spot to clean up the scraps. Roberts converted from the right of the posts, giving the Gold Coast a 6-0 lead in the fourth minute.
The Broncos were gifted a penalty try in the 10th minute, with Konrad Hurrell kicking the ball out of Kahu's hands as the Brisbane centre was about to ground the ball on the line. Kahu converted from straight in front of the posts to level the scores at 6-all.
The Titans hit back in the 15th minute, with Taylor grubbering for a diving Mead who scored in the right corner. Roberts made no mistake with the conversion and the Gold Coast suddenly led 12-6 after 16 minutes.
Brisbane hit back in the 23rd minute, with Milford making a line break that gave the Broncos superior field position. Kahu scored in the left corner off the next play, but he then missed the conversion – the score now 12-10 to the Titans.
Jarrod Wallace scored under the posts in the 27th minute, with Parker finding the soon-to-be-Gold Coast Titan with a beautiful pass. Kahu converted straight over the black dot to give Brisbane a 16-12 lead.
Taylor left the field with a hip injury in the 34th minute, but it didn't appear to hinder the Titans as Hoffman crossed for his second try off a brilliant Hayne kick. Roberts again converted to give his side an 18-16 lead at half-time.
After an exhilarating first half, Gold Coast went into the sheds with all the momentum and looked on their way to causing a huge upset, but their opponents grabbed the momentum at the start of the second term and never looked back.
Brisbane Broncos 44 (Glenn 2, Kahu 2, Oates 2, Milford, Wallace tries; Kahu 6 goals) defeated Gold Coast Titans 28 (McQueen 2, Mead, Hoffman, James tries; 4 goals). Crowd: 43,170.