It looked every bit like a disastrous piece of business for the Broncos and so it has come to pass. David Fifita, once the jewel in what was to be a premiership-winning young pack at Red Hill, terrorised his former club to lead the Titans to a 28-16 victory over their former M1 overlords.
Fifita’s defection from the Broncos last year was the ultimate gut-punch for Brisbane as they limped to a wooden spoon. Brisbane love to trumpet the notion that they never lose a player they want to keep but when the Titans waded in with a mega-offer, they were blown out of the water.
That might come to be a recurring them when it comes to the devastating edge back-rower. After a quiet debut for his new club against the Warriors in round one, Fifita scored twice for the Titans as they went some way to justifying the pre-season hype after a spree of signings that also included Tino Fa’asuamaleaui.
Even when he wasn’t putting points on the board, Fifita was causing problems for a Broncos defence that unfortunately had the kind of soft touch that made them such easybeats in 2020. When Jarrod Wallace went over from close range to open the Gold Coast account, it was because Brisbane only had eyes for Fifita as he lurked wide of the ruck.
His first try in the 32nd minute saw him gallop straight through the grasp of Anthony Milford, who Kevin Walters had urged to show him more in defence, in what was the first of three tries in a seven-minute period before half-time that effectively ended the contest.
“I felt sorry for him last week with the criticism he came under,” said Titans coach Justin Holbrook. “Just happy for him, he had a really good week and showed what he was capable tonight.”
The Titans weren’t exactly crisp themselves but when you have a weapon like Fifita, sometimes that’s all you need to tear a team apart. In the 54th minute, with just a slightest hint of a gap, Fifita used his power, footwork and pace to smash over again and underline the value of his acquisition for a club with dreams of much bigger things.
But coach Justin Holbrook is unlikely to be pleased by the significant real estate Brisbane occupied in the second half, as well as the open space they found against a defence that scrambled decently but was clearly fatigued.