Queensland bragging rights went to Gold Coast as Brisbane fullback Ben Barba was again left with little to crow about in the Titans’ 12-8 NRL win over the Broncos on Friday night.
For just the second time in 10 games – and first in two years – the Titans emerged triumphant over the Broncos to justify their top of the table billing in front of 20,524 fans at Cbus Super Stadium.
It was the same old story for an out of sorts Barba.
Gun shy after being peppered by high kicks all night, Barba’s night was summed up when he made the fatal mistake of letting yet another Albert Kelly bomb bounce near the uprights in the dying minutes.
Looking a shell of the man who won the 2012 Dally M Medal, a tentative Barba then tried to regather the ball only to be pickpocketed by Titans pivot Aidan Sezer who crashed over for the 73rd minute matchwinner.
Barba had claimed to have been comforted by a mid-week heart to heart with coach Anthony Griffin but will need much more counselling following yet another shocker.
He looked vulnerable under the high ball all night and what little confidence he had appeared shattered after he spilt a 16th minute Kelly bomb.
The Gold Coast had to claw their way back from an 8-0 deficit after Corey Parker extended Brisbane’s 6-0 halftime lead with a penalty goal when he copped a 43rd minute high shot from Paul Carter who was placed on report.
Brisbane celebrated again in the 60th minute but bench forward Todd Lowrie was deemed to be held up by the video referee.
Seconds later Titans fullback David Mead pounced on a Ben Hunt grubber and ran almost 100m to score before Sezer kicked a sideline conversion to cut the deficit to 8-6.
Brisbane got the upper hand in an absorbing first in the 30th minute.
Backrower Alex Glenn fed off halfback Hunt and broke the line before passing inside for the in-form No.7 to score.