The Brisbane Broncos have staged their greatest NRL comeback, beating Gold Coast 36-28 despite the Titans leading 22-0 after just 15 minutes in their Queensland derby at Lang Park.
Earlier on Friday evening, the Storm remained undefeated in Melbourne this season following a convincing 40-14 victory over Cronulla.
In Brisbane, the Broncos conceded four early tries and looked all at sea before scoring 36 consecutive points to eclipse their previous-best 18-point comeback against Canberra 15 years ago.
A helter-skelter first half began with Jamal Fogarty grubbering twice and Ashley Taylor once to set up three easy tries and completely expose Broncos fullback Jamayne Isaako.
But, staring down a 24th loss from their last 26 matches, it was Isaako who turned the tide for the under-fire Broncos team.
Isaako wiped aside his horror start to dominate the remainder of the contest, scoring twice and setting up two more as Brisbane remarkably drew level at half-time.
AJ Brimson was sin-binned for slowing the play in the lead-up to a try, with Tyson Gamble letting him know about it as the surprise Broncos inclusion breathed some life into the host’s performance.
In just his fourth NRL match, the 24-year-old halfback carried the ball strongly to the line and allowed Anthony Milford — back after two weeks in the Queensland Cup — and Isaako space to create and expose some listless Titans defence that slipped off 21 first-half tackles.
Corey Oates then ran 95 metres after intercepting a Taylor pass to put the hosts ahead to start the second half, before former Titan Jesse Arthars scored off another Isaako pass.
Fogarty then kicked a goal-line drop out out on the full, Isaako’s penalty goal putting Brisbane ahead by 14 with 17 minutes to play.
David Fifita regathered his own grubber and looked to score for Gold Coast until a review found a knock-on, before Tevita Pangai Junior somehow stripped Brian Kelly when he was millimetres from scoring.
Mitch Rein finally found the line for the Titans, the conversion cutting the gap to eight points with 10 minutes to play.
Fifita was denied again when he chased another of his own kicks only to plant the ball on the dead-ball line in what was a strangely kick-happy performance from the in-form wrecking ball.
In-form Titans winger Corey Thompson suffered an ankle injury, while the contest finished with both sides involved in a melee.
The win snapped Brisbane’s three-match losing streak against the Titans.
Storm roar home to beat Sharks
The Storm recovered from a sluggish start to race away with a crushing victory over Cronulla to maintain their unbeaten 2021 record in Melbourne.
And compounding the misery for the Sharks, captain Wade Graham, who was returning from a two-week concussion lay-off, left the field for a HIA in the 68th minute after another head knock and failed to return.
Cronulla took an 8-6 lead into half-time after a dominant opening, with the Storm looking below par coming off a five-day turnaround following their Anzac Day match against the Warriors.
Making uncustomary errors, the Storm’s only first-half try was a 90-metre effort by Josh Addo-Carr against the run of play.
But after a serve from coach Craig Bellamy about their lacklustre handling, the home side clicked into gear and put three tries on the board within 10 minutes after the half-time break.
With Will Chambers, who played 215 matches for the Storm across two stints between 2007 and 2019, lining up for his first NRL appearance for Cronulla, the Sharks started strongly.
They were unlucky to have a Connor Tracey try called back with Chad Townsend’s long cut-out pass to the winger called forward.
And 10 minutes later Tracey was held up over line by a desperate tackle from Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes.
After Addo-Carr capitalised on a Shaun Johnson error, the Sharks hit the lead when edge forward Briton Nikora steamed to the line with playmaker Johnson this time producing the goods.
The second half was one-way traffic with Storm winger Reimis Smith collecting a hat-trick.
In his first start at hooker for the Storm, Harry Grant was outstanding.
Shrugging off a first-half dislocated finger and a sternum injury, Grant had three try assists among his team’s haul of eight.
Tracey was finally rewarded on his third attempt with a 79th minute try in the corner.