Hunt stars as Broncos thrash Titans
The Brisbane Broncos have recorded their biggest ever win over the Gold Coast Titans, running out 54-0 winners in a commanding performance at CBUS Super Stadium.
It was the perfect start to life after the injured Andrew McCullough, with Ben Hunt playing 60 superb minutes in the hooking position, putting together one of his best performances of the season in the process.
Hunt scored three tries and set up two others as he proved he is a genuine option at No.9.
If the scoreline was not bad enough, the Titans are also sweating on the health of star halfback Ash Taylor who left the field in the second half with a knee complaint.
But Brisbane aren't without issues of their own, with bench forward Joe Ofahengaue facing a nervous few days after being placed on report for a dangerous tackle.
That was the Broncos' only negative from the second half as they put on 38 points in 40 minutes to blow the Titans out of the water.
The second-half onslaught started in the 48th minute, with Hunt scoring his second try of the night after collecting his own kick to cross next to the posts. Kahu kicked truly to give the Broncos a 22-0 lead.
The floodgates were now open and Tautau Moga should have extended Brisbane's lead, but the hulking centre dropped the ball over the line.
However, it did not cost the Broncos, with Anthony Milford and Tevita Pangai Junior combining to put James Roberts over under the posts. Kahu added the extras to put the Broncos up by 28 points at the 56-minute mark.
Milford scored his first try of the night in the 62nd minute, crossing the line courtesy of a perfectly weighted Hunt grubber kick. Kahu's conversion missed to the left and the scoreline stayed at 32-0.
Hunt had his third three minutes later, with the hooker supporting Kodi Nikorima as the halfback broke through Gold Coast's line. Hunt scored under the posts and Kahu added the extras to make it 38-0.
Brisbane broke the 40-point barrier in the 68th minute as Hunt continued his stellar night. The 27-year-old broke the Titans' line from deep in his own half, passing to Corey Oates who ran 60 metres to score his second try of the night. Kahu took his personal tally to 12 points with a successful conversion, giving the Broncos a 44-point lead in the process.
The margin hit 48 when Nikorima scored a 90 metre try with just minutes to go and it then hit 50 when Josh McGuire crossed untouched to score his second try of the season.
Those two four-pointers blew the scoreline out to 54-0, the biggest loss in the Titans' history.
Unbelievably, it was the Gold Coast who controlled the first 20 minutes of the match, dominating the field position as they accumulated a staggering 63 per cent of possession.
But the Titans failed to convert this great start to points and the Broncos soon pounced, with Nikorima dummying past Max King and Joe Greenwood to open the scoring. Jordan Kahu converted from straight in front to give Brisbane a 6-0 lead after 25 minutes.
It was not long before Brisbane secured their second four-pointer of the night, with Moga producing a great offload to give Oates a try in his return to the side. Kahu's conversion attempt swung away to the left to leave the scoreline at 10-0 in the 33rd minute.
Gold Coast then came within centimetres of scoring in the 37th minute, but winger Anthony Don dropped the ball over the line. Oates pounced on the loose ball and sprinted 50 metres down the field to give the Broncos great field position.
Brisbane capitalised, with Hunt scooting from dummy half to score on the stroke of half-time. Kahu kicked his second goal of the night from near the right touchline to give his side a 16-point lead at the break.
Brisbane Broncos 54 (Hunt 3, Nikorima 2, Oates 2, Roberts, McGuire, Milford tries; Kahu 6, Milford 1 goals) defeated Gold Coast Titans 0. Half-time: Brisbane Broncos 16 led Gold Coast Titans 0. Crowd: 21,716
NRL.com unofficial votes: 3 points: Ben Hunt, 2 points: Kodi Nikorima, 1 point: Anthony Milford.
Holden Cup: Brisbane Broncos 36 defeated Gold Coast Titans 34.