Hunt paves way for Broncos' 54-0 drubbing of Titans
BEN Hunt has emerged as Brisbane's premiership x-factor after the makeshift hooker spearheaded the Broncos to a record 54-0 derby drubbing of the Titans.
The Broncos were supposed to be premiership pretenders following a season-ending knee injury to inspirational No. 9 Andrew McCullough, but Hunt could be the attacking ace to snap Brisbane's 10-year title drought following his night out on the Gold Coast.
In a 57-minute stint from the bench Hunt scored a hat-trick and had a hand in another three tries as the Broncos racked up a record win in front of 21,176 at Cbus Super Stadium to burst back into the top four.
"That's what he brings. He's a threat there," Broncos coach Wayne Bennett said.
"It makes it easier (coming off the bench). There's not as much pressure as there is playing halfback and trying to organise the team.
"They had a lot thrown at them. They held up and stayed together.
"We're still a work in progress. We've got a lot tougher teams than we played tonight in front of us.
"It's nice to see what they did tonight. It gives everyone confidence."
Bennett was looking for a response after the Broncos were stung by Parramatta last week and he got it.
This was the Broncos at their powerful best, although the Titans didn't fire a shot in what was the club's biggest ever loss.
At the helm Brisbane's domination was Hunt. He will depart the Broncos at the end of the season for St George-Illawarra but has shown he is determined to end his Brisbane career on a high.
Brisbane was battling early on the back of the Titans having 63 per cent of possession, but Hunt's injection from the interchange created an immediate shift in momentum when halfback Kodi Nikorima scored in typical fashion close to the line.
When Tautau Moga put winger Corey Oates over in his return from illness with a superb offload the Broncos were well on top and Hunt gave them a 16-0 lead when he scored right on half-time.
With a slice of fortune Hunt scored his second soon after the break but it was Tevita Pangai Jnr who stole the show with a stunning flick pass to put James Roberts over against his former club.
Hunt kicked for Anthony Milford to score then picked up his third backing up a Nikorima break.
Oates and Nikorima scored long-range efforts to round out the rout and give the Broncos a shot of confidence ahead of Friday night's blockbuster against defending premiers Cronulla at Suncorp Stadium.
The Broncos will likely be without prop Joe Ofahengaue for the Sharks clash after he was placed on report for a dangerous tackle on Titans lock Max King while Roberts was lucky to escape 10 minutes in the sin bin after appearing to lash out at Ryan James in a melee.
BRISBANE 54 (B Hunt 3 K Nikorima 2 C Oates 2 J McGuire A Milford J Roberts tries J Kahu 6 A Milford goals) bt GOLD COAST 0 at Cbus Super Stadium. Referee: Henry Perenara, Jon Stone. Crowd: 21,716