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QUICK WRAP: Titans vs Broncos
15 April 2023 - Gold Coast play Brisbane in round 7 of the NRLM season in prime time Saturday at C-Bus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Was the game worth watching?
Yes. The first three quarters of the game were a compelling, tense, physical and consistent contest, fought between a contender and a local rival aiming up in front of a big home crowd.
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Did the Titans or the Broncos look like the better team?
The Broncos were the better team by the end of the night but it was a close run thing for most of the match. I’d venture that the Titans had the upper hand through the first 35 minutes but the intensity with which the Gold Coast both ran and tackled took its toll on the Titans.
By the 48th minute, the Titans looked gassed again, as if they hadn’t just had a break. By 55 minutes, I was confident that the Broncos we're going to bring it home. Arthars scored thirty seconds later and cracked the game open. The Tino sin bin sealed the deal. Reynolds kicked the two and it was garbage time from there.
Were the Broncos really the better team?
Yes, although the rampage in garbage time and the subsequent lack of attention to defence makes the case look different to how it would have stacked up after 55 or 60 minutes, where it might have been a smidge closer.
The Broncos won on territory and metres per set and, despite being +4 on errors, still more than doubled the Titans points, until a last second try by Kruise Leeming. It's not often you see a score after a field goal of disrespect.
Did you notice?
Let’s go back to the Tino sin binning.
It’s unexpected but the Broncos worked towards, if not this exact outcome, then certainly something positive like this by repeatedly targeting Fa'asuamaleaui.
The set begins as Sami knocks the ball out, despite Arthars and Walsh contesting the kick. Both sides are lethargic in getting into position for the restart. Arthars and Walsh stay hunched over the in-goal as Mam trots to the 20 to take the tap. Mam gets Paix to take a short carry and Cobbo moves it sideways on the next run but not much further forward.
There’s then three important runs to set up the binning, first from Kobe Hetherington, then Pat Carrigan and then Hetherington again.
Paix's urgency after the first run suggests he's spotted something. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui gets involved in all three tackles and he doesn't square up at marker nor get back on side, sitting in no man's land to preserve a few steps of energy, after the second. It happens again after the third run.
We're back to where we started. Paix gets Mam to run straight at Fa'asuamaleaui, with Paix immediately appealing for a penalty which suggests some level of intent.
Mam bounces off, continues the play and gets tackled. Fa'asuamaleaui comes over the top after the call of held and that's enough for the referee, who not only penalises him but bins him to boot.
It's up to you to decide if the ref was right to dial up from a verbal warning to a binning, but it's a great set from Paix and friends. They picked out one of the best in the game while he was clearly out on his feet, and targeted him. They went on a fishing expedition, hoping to force an error and break the line, or at least get a penalty, and they landed a really big catch for their efforts.
Now you'd assume with such a clever passage of play, Paix would be starting hooker but since he's not, let's look at the guy who is. He must be great. It says here that not only is Billy Walters the coach's son, he also failed to crack the Wests Tigers lineup. Surely he'll make way for a Mozer/Paix combo soon.
Well, it also says here that despite there being no obvious competition for his signature, nor even any other club that would probably start him without a depth crisis, Walters is signed to 2024. Curious.
It does rather feel like if nepotism wasn't so widely accepted in this league, there'd be some outrage about that. Oh well.
(I had lined up three instances of Billy overplaying his hand but Substack cut me off)
Former Rhino and current Titan, Kruise Leeming talked on the BBC RL podcast1 about Holbrook’s focus on making the Titans into a defensive-oriented team. That must be somewhat of a work in progress but it boggles the mind to consider the Titans as a defensive powerhouse. We normally associate them with chaos or ineptitude.
Despite running out of gas in the final quarter and not quite having the juice to run with the Broncos, I do like what I’m seeing out of the Titans. Next week’s Brawl on the Beach against the Dolphins will be a great indicator of where this team stands, not least because Redcliffe are the perfect yardstick. It’s not hard to envisage Gold Coast scrapping for one of the final spots in the top eight come August.
I was just easing myself into the tank on Jayden Campbell and his kick was charged down and returned for a try before half time. Oh well, whatever deficiencies I think he had, he seems to either have overcome them or otherwise compensated or they never existed. Campbell looks like the real deal now.
As numerous people have noted, the Titans left side looks deadly but Gold Coast don't seem to use it optimally. Fifita didn't seem to stand out in the back half, as much as he had in the front. Foran tried running at one point late in the game and if that's not a sign of desperation I don't know what is.
The Broncos made it stick and move to 6-1. More importantly, they showed the right attitude from kickoff, although Cobbo looked like he was struggling with the force of the onslaught, and matched up well to an opponent intent on taking it to them. Brisbane came out on top by outlasting their opposition, like they did against the Dragons, Cowboys and Dolphins. It's as much a part of their style as pushing the envelope in attack and copping the errors that go with. Is this sustainable? We won't know until it's apparent that it's not but it looks good for now.
Payne Haas, still very good.
Jordan Riki owes Brian Kelly a fruit basket for his try assist.
Dan Ginnane said scorigami several times.
I hate it when the Broncos lose to the Titans. Winning means nothing because the Titans are usually a rabble but losing frustrates twice as much for the same reason. But this, I thought, was well played by both sides for most of the match.
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He also wouldn’t be drawn on why Rohan Smith didn’t have Leeming in Leeds’ future plans. Given Leeds’ fairly average start to the season, it’ll be interesting to see how Smith’s personality and performance reflect on future prospects for QCup coaches to be picked up by Super League clubs.