Tino-less Titans overcome distractions to down Broncos

The Titans put an exclamation mark on the end of a chaotic week by securing a memorable 18-12 derby win over the high-flying Broncos on Sunday afternoon.

With Justin Holbrook removed as head coach during the week and Jim Lenihan put in as the interim for the rest of the year – ahead of Des Hasler taking charge for 2024 – the Gold Coast had plenty to deal with even before the decision was made to rest captain Tino Fa'asuamaleaui prior to kick-off. 

But after footing it with the second-placed Broncos through the first half, the Titans found another gear in the second 40, scoring a pair of converted tries and kicking a penalty goal to earn their first win over Brisbane in five games. 

With both sides having a bye in Round 16, the game was the Titans' first in 17 days and the Broncos' first in 15, and for most of the first half it showed. 

It took 29 minutes for the first points to be scored and when they did come it was through an unlikely source in Thomas Flegler, before David Fifita burst through a minute before half-time to tie scores again at 6-6. 

Fifita turned provider for his side's second, forcing Adam Reynolds into a low tackle and then popping the ball to an unmarked Brian Kelly, before Alofiana Khan-Pereira grabbed his 14th try in 13 games to give the visitors a 10-point advantage. 

As the final half hour arrived the Broncos were peppering the Gold Coast line, but twice had possible tries ruled out after the Bunker found issues upon review, before the Titans had one of their own ruled out on the hour mark.

Ezra Mam wasn't to be denied two minutes later though, with his try and Reynolds' conversion setting up a thrilling finish with the deficit reduced to four. 

Khan-Pereira thought he had the likely match-winner when he picked off a pass and raced away, but there was a knock on the lead up, while a Broncos equaliser on the next set was rubbed out due to Reece Walsh's pass to Corey Oates being forward. 

A Tanah Boyd penalty goal stretched the lead to six with seven to play, and from there the Titans held on to claim their third away win of the season. 

Match Snapshot

  • Isaac Liu was placed on report for Dangerous Contact in the 10th minute following a tackle on Herbie Farnworth, while Thomas Flegler was cited six minutes later for a Dangerous Tackle. 
  • Alofiana Khan-Pereira scored his 14th try in 13 games in what has been an impressive rookie season. 
  • AJ Brimson continued his outstanding season at fullback, running for 173 metres and breaking seven tackles for the Titans.
  • The Titans successfully used a captain's challenge in the 71st minute when they had a knock-on call overturned and Tyson Smoothy was penalised for a ball strip.

Play of the Game
Tries in the shadows of half-time always hurt, and this one from David Fifita gave the Titans a huge boost come the second half. It was a peach of a ball from Kieran Foran, who made a big difference in his return from a toe injury.




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What They Said
"I'm really disappointed. Today, was just not who we are as a club. It's just attitude. We need to fix it and fix it in a hurry. I was very confident in a group that we could fix it up but we didn't really look like we did. I commend our boys that backed up (Origin), it's more just the whole team showing up here with the wrong attitude. I'm angry for the 40,000 people that came here today." - Broncos coach Kevin Walters

What's Next 
New territory awaits the Broncos when they host the Dolphins at The Gabba on Saturday night, while the Titans head down to Canberra to face the Raiders. 


Story first published on NRL.com

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Corey Rosser, NRL Reporter