Brisbane Broncos vs Gold Coast Titans: Lineups, preview and predictions
Suncorp Stadium, Sunday 1st April, 6:30 pm AEST.
Easter Sunday is rounded out by the South East Queensland Derby, featuring the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans, who will make the 1-hour journey north via the M1. This match will be the 24th instalment of the second of the existing rivalries in the sunshine state.
After being destroyed in their season opener against the Dragons, the Broncos have bounced back with two closely fought victories, with their most recent victory against the Tigers at Campbelltown proceeding into golden point and ending in very controversial circumstances, by being awarded a dubious penalty, which was duly converted by Jamayne Isaako. Their match against the Cowboys in round 2 saw them emerge with a closely fought, yet deserved victory, in what was another classic of a Queensland Derby.
After coming from 18-0 down against the Raiders to win 30-28, the Titans have been rather disappointing in their losses to the Warriors across the Tasman, and the Dragons in Toowoomba. Their most recent match saw them obliterated 54-8 by an inform Dragons outfit. In their encounter with the Warriors, they were certainly close enough, having eventually lost 20-8, but for some poor execution at the end of their sets. Their only try would come towards the end of the game, when the result was effectively decided.
As such, with this match being played on a day of significance, being Easter Sunday, pulped by the fact that this is a local derby, both teams require minimal motivation for this match. The Broncos will be aiming for three consecutive victories, while the Titans will be looking to atone for last week’s thrashing, as well as making a return to the winners’ circle. Another factor in this match, which will add further spark is Broncos centre James Roberts, who will be up against his former club.
2017 – Round 22 – Brisbane Broncos 54 def. Gold Coast Titans 0 at Cbus Super Stadium.
2017 – Round 7 – Brisbane Broncos 24 def. Gold Coast Titans 22 at Suncorp Stadium.
2016 – Qualifying Final- Brisbane Broncos 44 def. Gold Coast Titans 28 at Suncorp Stadium.
2016 – Round 5 – Brisbane Broncos 24 def. Gold Coast Titans 16 at Cbus Super Stadium.
2015 – Round 20 – Brisbane Broncos 34 def. Gold Coast Titans 0 at Suncorp Stadium.
As can be seen from the last five encounters, the Broncos have had it all over their South-East Queensland rivals. Some of these last 5 encounters have seen the Broncos hold the Titans scoreless as well, which reaffirms the aforementioned, in terms of Bronco dominance. In fact, the Broncos’ last defeat by the Titans came in 2014, courtesy of a 12-8 victory to the Titans on the holiday strip.
Further underscoring the dominance of the Broncos in these fixtures is the fact that the Bronx have won 18 of their 23 encounters, with the other 5 victories going the way of the men from the holiday strip. In fact, the only time the Bronx have lost to the Titans in Brisbane occurred in their inaugural match in 2007, when the Broncos were the “away” team, after occasionally ground-sharing with their neighbours that year. This means that the Titans have never beaten the Broncos while being the visiting team.
|Brisbane Broncos||Gold Coast Titans|
|1||Darius Boyd||Michael Gordon|
|2||Jonus Pearson||Anthony Don|
|3||James Roberts||Dale Copley|
|4||Jack Bird||Konrad Hurrell|
|5||Jamayne Isaako||Phillip Sami|
|6||Anthony Milford||Kane Elgey|
|7||Kodi Nikorima||Ash Taylor|
|8||< Name redacted >||Jarrod Wallace|
|9||Andrew McCullough||Nathan Peats|
|10||Korbin Sims||Ryan James|
|11||Alex Glenn||Kevin Proctor|
|12||Matt Gillett||Will Matthews|
|13||Josh McGuire||Jai Arrow|
|14||Sam Thaiday||Mitch Rein|
|15||Joe Ofahengaue||Max King|
|16||Tom Opacic||Bryce Cartwright|
|17||Jaydn S’ua||Leilani Latu|
|18||Todd Murphy||Morgan Boyle|
|19||Sam Tagataese||Ryan SImpkins|
|20||Gehamat Shibasaki||AJ Brimson|
|21||Patrick Mago||Tyronne Roberts-Davis|
The facts that matter
After being completely dominated by the Dragons at Kogarah, especially in the yardage department, the Broncos have put that right in their last 2 matches. They laboured for 1099 metres against the Saints in round 1, whereas they made 1407 and 1748 metres against the Cowboys and Tigers, respectively. Moreover, after missing a whopping 35 tackles against the Dragons, in what was a very un-Bronco-like display, they would only miss 27 and 23 against the Cowboys and Tigers, whereas their opponents would miss somewhere in the vicinity of 40 tackles each.
The factor is this improvement is undoubtedly the return of workhorse, Andrew McCullough, from injury. McCullough is known for his tireless work ethic in defence and therefore consistently racks up his tackle count. Moreover, despite the injury to regular kicker Jordan Kahu, Jamayne Isaako is proving his worth as a stand-in goal kicker.
On the flip side, the Broncos’ attack is still yet to fully gel, and the absence of Ben Hunt is being felt, as they are yet to win a match comfortably. Moreover, last week, they had several chances to post a try and prevent the game from going into golden point, but could not cross the line on any occasion, with Isaako’s boot proving the difference.
The Titans demonstrated a tremendous amount of character, as they came from 18-0 down to steal victory from the Raiders in round 1. With that, many were prepared to think that the Titans had turned a corner. Unfortunately, their last 2 matches have suggested that they have a long way to go, especially in their match last week against the Dragons, who game them a 54-8 belting in the Darling Downs region.
Although their victory over the Raiders was amazing, there was a glaring weakness demonstrated in that match, which was the fact that they missed a whopping 46 tackles for that match. Unfortunately for the Titans, this weakness was exploited ruthlessly by both the Warriors and Dragons. In all their matches thus far, the Titans have missed over 40 tackles, which is not what is required to be winning on a consistent basis. This issue must be urgently addressed by coach Garth Brennan, otherwise, it will continue to plague them for the season.
On the flip side, the completion rate of the men from the holiday strip has been fairly sound, as they have completed at least 74% of their sets in their three matches. They made 15 offloads in their victory over the Raiders while restricting their opponents to just 3 for that match. As such, if they can continue to make offloads close to their opponents’ try line, they can cause plenty of headaches for the Broncos’ defence.
There is little doubt that there will be fireworks in this match, especially given that former Titan-turned-Bronco, James Roberts, will be up against his former club. Recently and for the aforementioned reason, there has been an abundance of emotion on display from the Titans, and there’s no reason why it will be any different here.
As stated earlier, one side will be aiming for a 3rd consecutive victory, whereas the other is desperate to prevent a third consecutive loss. Given the thrashing the Titans received last round from the Dragons, they will be especially fired up for this match, with their opponents for this match being the Broncos, or “big brother”. As such, there should be no surprises to see the Titans rip into big brother.
Despite the high likelihood of the Titans having a red-hot crack at their South-East Queensland rivals, one suspects that the Broncos will be able to absorb all this and run away with the match, exploiting little brother’s defensive deficiencies in the process. Moreover, the Titans’ poor record in Brisbane is too difficult to ignore, and I don’t expect them to claim their first victory as the visiting team in this match. Broncos by 16.