The first instalment of the South East Queensland Derby between the Gold Coast Titans and Brisbane Broncos for 2021 has ended with ‘little brother' the Titans getting the spoils winning 28-16 at CBUS Stadium tonight.
Former Bronco turned Titan David Fifita was almost predictably the star scoring two trademark tries to give the home side the ascendency, which provided his side with their first win in 2021. Despite some stand out performances by a number of Titans players, the Gold Coast will still need to improve their completion rate if they are to compete with the top sides this season.
The Broncos were in the match early but simply fell apart in devastating fashion ten minutes before halftime, where last year's Wooden Spooners let in three successive tries. Despite a huge effort from Broncos firebrand Tevita Pangai to try and get his side back in the contest, the amount of unforced handling errors at crucial times would be alarming for Kevin Walters and his coaching staff moving forward.
All the pre-match talk revolved around big money Titans signing Fifita coming up against his former club, however it was former Bronco Jarrod Wallace who flipped the script when he crashed over for the first try following a neat short pass from Mitch Rein at dummy half. Jamal Fogarty converted and the home side led 6-0 after 20 minutes.
Brisbane to their credit hit back almost immediately, when halfback Brodie Croft kicked high for his wingman in Xavier Coates who leapt high and offloaded in the one motion to find Tesi Niu, who did amazingly well to plant the ball over the stripe despite the attention of Titans winger Corey Thompson. Jamayne Isaako failed to convert from out wide and the Titans lead was narrowed to 6-4.
Crucial back-to-back handling errors from both Coates and Isaako then cost the Broncos big time, when David Fifita crashed over for his first try. After managing to get a good run on the back of a scrum, the giant 20-year-old swatted away former teammates Anthony Milford and Tesi Niu to score and extend the lead to 10-4.
The Broncos ghosts of the season past then returned as they simply capitulated prior to halftime following the Fifita try, letting in back-to-back tries firstly to Titans utility Erin Clark which was swiftly followed by prop Jaimin Jolliffe who scored his first try in the NRL off a neat pass from dummy half off Clark and all of the sudden it was 22-4 at the break.
David Fifita continued his dream run against the Broncos when play resumed, with the giant backrower again running straight through Milford and Niu's corridor down the left-hand side to crash over for his second try. Fogarty converted and it was 28-4.
Brisbane then tried to claw their way back into the match, when Tesi Niu looked to all but certain to score after making a break to the corner post but the ball was then stripped by AJ Brimson. Fortunately for the Broncos the ball was ruled to have gone back by the Bunker and Xavier Coates grounded the ball for a try. Isaako's conversion narrowed the score to 28-10 with less than 20 minutes remaining.
While the comeback never gained momentum, Broncos prop Tevita Pangai managed to crash over late for a consolation try late to narrow the defeat to 28-16 for the visitors in what was ultimately another disappointing night for Brisbane fans.
The Titans now make the trip north to Townsville next weekend for another Queensland derby when they face the Cowboys next Sunday.
Brisbane now return to Suncorp Stadium where they will face the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs as they look to register their first win of the season in front of their home fans.