Round 7: Broncos v Titans preview
Queensland rivals clash in battle of the also-rans
Enduring one of the roughest patches in the club's history over the past month, the Brisbane Broncos will be desperate to get back in the winner's circles when they host the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium.
Conceding 140 points while posting just 30 of their own since the season resumption, the Brisbane Broncos will be approaching Saturday as a win-at-all-costs match following widespread scrutiny from former players and vocal sections of the media.
Holding a 74 per cent record over the Titans with 20 wins from 27 clashes dating back to 2007, coach Anthony Seibold will be wary of the threat posed by the reigning wooden spooners having suffered the embarrassment of going down to the Titans at Suncorp Stadium last year.
Managing a single win from their opening six matches, the Gold Coast Titans will be hoping to move off the bottom of the ladder with victory on Saturday evening.
Finishing last week's 20-8 loss to the Dragons with one reserve following injuries to Corey Thompson, Young Tonumaipea and Phillip Sami, coach Justin Holbrook will be optimistic about his side's chances following upset wins over the Broncos in the past two seasons.
Boosted by the return of former Broncos outside back Dale Copley in place of Tonumaipea, seasoned first-graders Mitch Rein and Jarrod Wallace have been handed reprieves at the expense of Erin Clark and Bryce Cartwright.
Who to watch: Providing a rare spark of life to the rapidly imploding Broncos, speedster Xavier Coates will be hoping to record his first win of the season. Bagging a try in both of his appearances over the past fortnight, the 19-year-old flyer has earned comparisons to a young Israel Folau with his blistering speed and ability to contest the ball in the air. Representing Papua New Guinea last season, the young gun is sure to attract plenty of interest once he comes on the market at the end of this season, but will be primarily focused on getting the Broncos out of the doldrums on Saturday evening.
At just 20 years of age, Moeaki Fotuaika has put aside years of hardship to develop into the Titans' forward leader. Averaging 170 metres and 37 tackles in 2020 to usurp Jai Arrow as the premier forward at the club, the Tongan enforcer has embarrassed many of his higher profile teammates with performances belying his status as one of the youngest starting props in the league. Facing off against Broncos prodigy Payne Haas is a key personal duel, look for Fotuaika to give the visitors every chance of pulling off an upset through his efforts with the ball.
The favourite: Despite staring down the prospect of becoming the first Brisbane team in eight years to record five straight losses, the Broncos are expected to prove too strong for their struggling rivals.
My tip: A contest between 14th and 16th is unlikely to reach great heights, however the Broncos should get the job done if they have any aspirations of featuring beyond the regular season. Broncos by 12.