Rugby League

Walsh Shines As Broncos Draw With Titans

February 13, 2023 6:30 am

A Broncos side missing nine first-grade regulars unleashed a blistering first-half attacking display to tick another preseason box in a 24-24 draw with the Gold Coast Titans at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

Highlighted by strong displays from offseason recruits Reece Walsh and Martin Taupau as well as big opening shifts from prop Payne Haas and lock Corey Jensen, the Broncos got valuable game time into a number of starters to burst to a 24-6 lead at halftime before resting a host of stars for the second half.

Walsh opened the scoring for the Broncos in the 5th minute when he showed great power and pace to carry three would-be tacklers across the line to score on the right, with Kotoni Staggs converting to make it 6-0.

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The Broncos then produced good defensive intensity to repel the Titans for multiple sets before Gold Coast levelled the scores when Jojo Fifita outjumped Jordan Pereira to grab a Tannah Boyd cross-kick and score in the 17th minute. Boyd converted from the right touchline to make it 6-6.

Prop Taupau made his first appearance for the Broncos off the interchange bench and had an instant impact with some strong runs before winger Deine Mariner put his side back in front again with a nice pick-up to score on the right from a Jack Ahearn grubber. Staggs converted off the upright and it was 12-6 in the 29th minute.

Walsh was having impact again just before halftime when he took a quick tap and sped 30 metres up the middle of the ruck only to be pulled down the last line of defence. The Broncos rode off the back of that play with winger Jordan Pereira strolling over at the end of the set after a lovely offload from Mariner in the 37th minute.

With Staggs and centre partner Herbie Farnworth given an early shower at the 30-minute mark, Walsh stepped up to convert form the sideline to make it 18-6.

And the Stadium was on its feet again as the halftime siren sounded, replacement fullback Tristan Sailor unleashing an audacious cross-kick off the outside of his right boot to find Pereira on the right, with the winger doing wonderfully well to get the ball down as he crash over in the corner. Walsh again converted from the wide line to make it 24-6 at halftime.

Haas, Staggs and Farnworth didn’t return after the break and Walsh was given an early mark himself in the 53rd minute, with the Titans getting themselves back into the game with tries to Vaka Sikahele, and a double to Aiofana Khan-Pereira .

The Broncos are expected to welcome back a further swathe of NRL talent for next Saturday’s clash with the Cowboys including Pat Carrigan, Tom Flegler, Selwyn Cobbo, Jordan Riki and Keenan Palasia.