'They made us look like idiots'
It's been more than five years since Gold Coast Titans captain Ryan James has experienced a winning feeling against the Broncos, but he said none of the nine prior losses compare to the humiliation they endured on Saturday night.
Promising their fans a more determined showing after falling out of finals contention a week earlier, the Titans matched the Broncos on the scoreboard for the first 20 minutes but were already losing the physical battle.
Despite forcing three line drop-outs in the opening quarter the Brisbane defence never truly looked troubled and when Jarryd Hayne kicked the ball dead on the first tackle and Anthony Don dropped the ball backwards over the try-line the Broncos turned defence into attack, scoring tries in the two ensuing sets for a 16-0 lead at half-time.
From there it was a procession as the visitors scored 38 second-half points to break a host of records, including their biggest ever win against the Titans, their biggest ever win away from home and inflicting the heaviest defeat of any team all season.
Titans fans were mocked by their Broncos opposites as they understandably headed for the turnstiles early and James was at a loss to explain how it had all gone so horribly wrong.
"They competed and pounced on everything that we did wrong and they made us look like idiots," a clearly shattered James said, who refused to comment when asked whether James Roberts had punched him five minutes into the second half after a mild melee broke out.
"Probably towards the end there," James said when asked whether the Broncos had bullied the Titans out of the contest.
"I thought we held our own for a fair chunk of that game, it's just a couple of misreads and a couple of crafty plays."
Even though he said that the Broncos would "face much tougher teams" in the weeks to come, Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett actually defended the spirit displayed by the Titans not only on Saturday night but during the course of the year.
"That's not true. They couldn't have done what they did in the first half an hour if they didn't have spirit," Bennett said.
"We were leading them 10-0 a minute out from half-time so there's plenty of spirit there. I wouldn't be looking for that headline.
"We've all got touched up this season. We've had our moments, all the top teams have. Manly's been going through a bit of a patch and they (the Titans) have been playing with a patched-up side week after week.
"I thought they were pretty spirited, I thought they did a pretty fair job but the second half comes around and you’re into your interchange players and you've got one or two other guys that might be out of form and that's what happens, you do get a score put on you and we were here to play tonight."
After their meek surrender to the 15th-placed Wests Tigers a week earlier, Titans coach Neil Henry didn't seek to make any excuses for the disappointing nature of their second half capitulation.
"It's embarrassing, it's disappointing, it's all of those sorts of words," Henry said.
"It's a tough place to be. Clubs get like this from time to time, it's up to us to react to it and put in some better performances at the back-end of the year.
"We were competing in fits and starts but overall it's a good old fashioned flogging. There's no way to sugar-coat that performance. Our fans will be disappointed, we know that.
"It was a pretty embarrassing loss. Big occasion for the club, big crowd, certainly not up to standard."