The Brisbane Broncos season from hell continued tonight with a 36-8 loss to the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium.
The Broncos slumped to their fifth loss in a row for the second time this season.
After the first 40 minutes, Broncos fans would have been impressed with what they saw.
It took just six minutes to get a glimpse of why the Gold Coast Titans paid big money for David Fifita for next year and beyond.
Fifita got on the outside of Elliott Whitehead, drew in Jordan Rapana and got a flick pass away to Kotoni Staggs.
Staggs raced down the right touch line and grubbered back inside for Jesse Arthars.
Staggs conversion was off the mark but the Broncos had the early lead.
The Raiders hit back in the 13th minute.
A deft George Williams chip in goal forced a drop out and an offside penalty saw the Raiders with repeat sets on the Broncos line.
A lob pass from Williams was perfect for Rapana who scored in the corner.
Croker made no mistake and the Raiders held a 2 point lead.
However, the Broncos had the better of the remainder of the half.
Staggs got away on the right edge again but his pass inside to Arthars went to ground.
Payne Haas then got away a great offload to Brodie Croft, with his kick into the goal just cleared up by the Raiders defence.
After a couple of dropped balls from Ryan Sutton, the Broncos dominated the last 10 minutes of the half.
The Raiders repelled repeat set after repeat set, making 40 tackles to the Broncos 4 at one point.
It finally told. Darius Boyd’s grubber wasn’t handled cleanly by Nick Cotric and Herbie Farnworth dived over.
Staggs’ conversion was again wayward but the Broncos were up 8-6 at the break.
With 63% possession, the Broncos would have wanted a greater lead but the Raiders defence had been strong.
The Broncos in 2020 have had a record of second half fade-outs and so it proved again tonight.
The Raiders’ middle got early momentum before John Bateman beat Croft on the right edge and drew Darius Boyd before passing inside to Williams who scored untouched in the 46th minute.
The Raiders then pounced on a poor kick from Tom Dearden that cost his team a 7 tackle set.
Late in the count, Joseph Tapine drifted across field and got an offload to Williams.
Williams seemed to have an age to make his decision before finding Curtis Scott with a good ball and Cotric was in, again untouched.
14 minutes into the second half, the Raiders 2 point half time deficit was now an 18-8 lead.
From there, it was one way traffic, with the Raiders in complete control.
Bateman scored off a Williams kick in the 60th minute before the Raiders scored a brilliant try just 3 minutes later.
A left edge raid by Jack Wighton got Whitehead into some space. He found Croker with a smart pass and he was off down the left touchline.
His kick back inside found Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad who finished off to score.
The Broncos were down 30-8.
The carnage was complete in the 66th minute after Corey Harawira-Naera ran 60 metres through the middle of some lacklustre defence from the Broncos.
From the ensuing play, Bateman and Curtis Scott combined to put Cotric in space.
He beat 3 defenders to score and after another conversion from Croker who had a perfect night goal-kicking, Canberra led 36-8.
The Broncos had some chances late but couldn’t convert.
The damage had very much already been done and the Raiders consolidated their position in the top 8 with a comfortable win.
The bad news didn’t stop there for the Broncos, with Jake Turpin’s season in doubt after breaking his hand.
Kotoni Staggs is also on report for a late shot.
NRL News Player of the Game
3 points – George Williams – Williams guided the Raiders around brilliantly in the second half with his kicking game on point. He set up a number of tries and scored one himself
2 points – Joe Tapine – Tapine was great off the bench for the Raiders, running for 165 metres and getting away a number of offloads.
1 point – John Bateman – Bateman has returned to his dynamic best and caused problems on the right edge all night.