Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford passes the ball. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford passes the ball. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Pre-season struggles give Seibold plenty of headaches

Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold enters the NRL premiership with some headaches after the Broncos rounded out a losing pre-season with a 28-22 derby capitulation against the Titans.

The Broncos looked to be cruising to victory when a superb first half from Storm halfback recruit Brodie Croft catapulted Brisbane to a 16-0 lead after 23 minutes in their final trial hit-out at Dolphin Stadium.

But the Broncos went from slick to second-rate in the space of an hour at Redcliffe, conceding five tries in 25 minutes as reigning wooden-spooners the Titans stunned big brother with a superb fightback.

 

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Corey Oates is wrapped up by the Titans defence. Picture: Getty Images
Corey Oates is wrapped up by the Titans defence. Picture: Getty Images

When the full-time siren sounded, Seibold was left to digest the disappointment of a loss to a Titans team who finished the contest stronger, sharper and hungrier.

Brisbane's pre-season has been largely erratic. They crashed out of the NRL Nines and a 36-18 defeat of the lowly Capras a fortnight ago is little comfort for two consecutive trial losses to derby rivals the Cowboys and Titans.

To compound their plight, the Broncos lost fullback Jack Bird to concussion in the 34th minute after a high shot from Sam Lisone left him steering stars.

While Seibold will not hit the panic button in February, he needs to ensure Brisbane's midfield rediscover some mongrel ahead of their premiership opener against the Cowboys on Friday week.

"I was happy with the way we started the game but we lost our way there," Seibold said.

 

"When Jack went off, that was a really big turning point. He was very good on both sides of the ball.

"The game turned on possession. We would have liked to win and I would have liked our bench guys to play better, but that's why you play trial games."

The Broncos conceded some soft tries close to their tryline and with No.1 prop Matt Lodge sidelined for three months with a knee injury, Seibold needs his forwards to step-up and support Payne Haas.

The 117kg giant was outstanding, amassing 151 metres by half-time, but Haas needed more assistance as the Titans slowly won the ruck with passion and intensity.

"There were some players who came off the bench who learnt some lessons," Seibold said. "We need to have a good look at the make-up of our bench."

Payne Haas was superb for the Broncos but needs support. Picture: Getty Images
Payne Haas was superb for the Broncos but needs support. Picture: Getty Images

Trailing 16-10 at half-time, the Titans surged home, with Jai Arrow crashing over in the 45th minute for a 22-16 lead before Dale Copley crossed 10 minutes later to bury the Broncos.

There were some bright spots for Brisbane. Their first half was commanding with halfback recruit Brodie Croft again showing some promising touches to complete a fine pre-season.

It's only early days, but Croft is doing everything right to give the Broncos the match controller they crave.

"Brodie was really good," he said. "He and 'Milf' will only get better, I've liked the look of them in pre-season."

It's not just in the forwards where the Broncos have special talent. Teenage wing sensation Xavier Coates, 18, oozed class and it was his superb one-handed put-down in the eighth minute which got the Broncos rolling at 6-0.

Brodie Croft’s trial form has been impressive. Picture: Getty Images
Brodie Croft’s trial form has been impressive. Picture: Getty Images

With Haas in fine form, the Broncos should have romped to victory. Instead, they sensationally fell apart.

The Broncos' tryline defence in the second half was worryingly soft. Titans duo Mitch Rein (43rd minute) and Arrow (45th) both scored from close range, the latter pushing off Rhys Kennedy and David Fifita to give the Coast a shock 22-16 lead.

Brisbane rookie Herbie Farnworth scored a late consolation try but the Broncos will need to find more midfield mongrel and heart to test the Cowboys in round one.