Broncos v Titans: Five key points

Former Titans turn heart-breakers, Boyd's value on full display, Titans breathe new life into rivalry and two forwards' personal battle a highlight.

Former Titans return to break hearts

It could not have been a crueller finish for the Titans.

With Gold Coast seeking to close out a win against big brother Brisbane and defeat them on their home turf for the first time in 11 attempts, a charge down from Matt Gillett of a Kane Elgey kick near halfway put the ball into the path of James Roberts who not only raced away to score, but evaded the attempts at tackle of first Tyrone Roberts and then Tyronne Roberts-Davis in scoring what would prove to be the match-winner and his third of the night against his former club.

But if that wasn't enough of an insult to Titans fans, with the final play of the game Nathan Peats kicked to the corner and just as Roberts-Davis looked certain to swoop with a match-winner of his own the Titans' all-time leading try-scorer David Mead batted the ball dead to secure the two competition points.

Rugby league, you can be a cruel, cruel mistress.

Titans breathe new life into rivalry

The winning record at Suncorp Stadium didn't improve but the Titans breathed new life into a rivalry that had been decidedly one-sided with a committed and entertaining display in front of close to 35,000 fans.

In recent time the Titans faithful have not been able to travel to Suncorp Stadium confident they would see their team engage in a contest but with their best start to a game this season and fight to the very final play of the game their fans could walk away with their heads held high.

Gold Coast had allowed the opposition to land the first punch in each of their first six games of the season but the $5 outsiders landed the two opening blows to open up a 12-0 lead and take a 16-10 advantage into half-time.

Jarrod Wallace was the first to go close to scoring when he was held up in the seventh minute and when Roberts-Davis bombed another try-scoring opportunity from the very next play the signs of scoring first points were not looking good.

But a brilliant flick pass from Roberts that sent Anthony Don on an 80-metre run to the try-line got the Titans on the board first and when they backed it up through Ryan James four minutes later the Gold Coasters were flying.

A spectacular try to Chris Grevsmuhl four minutes from the break pushed their lead out to six and an advantage after 40 minutes for just the second time in 2017.

They couldn't hold out a fast-finishing Broncos team but they at least helped to deliver a contest that both sets of fans will remember for a long time.

 


Darius Boyd's ball-playing not half bad

With the signing of Jack Bird and how he fits into the Broncos’ plans for 2018 dominating the build-up, Darius Boyd gave a display that suggested he could handle a shift to the halves yet reinforced why he is so valuable at the back.

With Nikorima and Milford stretched out to the left Boyd called for the ball on a short blind side and put Roberts across for a simple try and then later in the half again put the centre in space from a scrum win that yielded a second four-pointer for the speedster.

His bull-at-an-Elgey kick return completely turned the momentum of the game the way of the Broncos and brought the crowd into the contest, Nikorima scoring a couple of plays later to level the scores with 22 minutes to play.

Like Darren Lockyer before him there is no question Boyd could handle the ball-playing responsibilities required of a five-eighth but the best fullback currently in the game brings an attacking dimension that most clubs would die for.

Milford and Nikorima make mixed start

We wondered how the Broncos would replace the talents of halfback Ben Hunt and after fumbling through the first half Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima discovered the winning formula: Run.

Milford looked sharp from the outset and troubled the Titans defence with his dazzling footwork but there was little polish to the end of any of Brisbane's 16 sets in the first half.

Milford, Nikorima and hooker Andrew McCullough each only had a solitary kick in general play in the first half and even in the opening moments of the second half they seemed reluctant to put boot to ball even when deep in Titans territory.

But if there were concerns that the new halves pairing was not going to take at its first outing the pair came up with game-changing plays that turned the result the way of their side.

On the back of a Boyd charge Nikorima sliced through from 15m out to level the scores at 16-all and then Milford completed one of the tries of the season as he and Roberts combined on an 85m spectacular.

Milford earned his side a repeat set with a well-judged grubber, Nikorima would have had a try assist had Roberts not bounced a short kick of his own and the pair finished the game looking much more comfortable in their own skin and not trying to be Ben Hunt.

 


Wallace and McGuire go toe-to-toe

From the opening two sets of the game it became clear that whenever Jarrod Wallace or Josh McGuire carried the ball forward, the other was there with a shoulder to meet them.

The two close friends went absolutely hammer and tong for the whole of the 80 minutes with Wallace registering a stunning 265m from 26 carries in a 73-minute performance that is by far and away the best of his career.

Not to be outdone, McGuire ran for 177m and made 46 tackles, 26 of which were no doubt whenever Wallace took a hit-up.

It was the type of battle that rugby league was built upon and an enthralling contest in the middle of the field.