The Brisbane Broncos have ground their way to an uncompromising 28-4 victory over the Canberra Raiders tonight in front of 8094 disappointed fans at Canberra's GIO Stadium.
It was a frosty night in the Nation's capital which lead many pundits to believe the Broncos would struggle in the unfamiliar chilly conditions. They looked comfortable from the outset however and engaged in an early battle for field position.
Both teams seemed content to work the ball up field early and test out the back three under the high ball but both teams stood firm in defence. It would take some Justin Hodges brilliance to open the game up. Hodges went on a stepping run just short of halfway and popped a one handed offload to Matt Gillett to race down field and send a long ball out to Bronco's winger Dale Copley to cross for first points in the 24th minute.
Corey Parker nailed the conversion from the sideline to give his team a 6-0 lead.
Copley would soon cross for a double in the 30th minute after Reece Robinson spilt a bomb from Broncos halfback Ben Hunt. Copley picked up the loose ball to crash over and reward Hunt and his team for their relentless aerial raids.
Hunt also added the extras to give his team a 12 point lead.
In the final 10 minutes of the first half, a few bounces of the ball went the home team's way giving them plenty of chances to hit back, but some strong scrambling defence saw the Bronco's take their twelve point advantage into the halftime break.
It was workhorse front rower Josh McGuire who scored first points in the second half, crossing for a controversial try in the 47th minute. Another Hunt bomb bounced the way of the Bronco's and centre Jack Reed ran around his fullback Ben Barba who appeared to have impeded Raiders skipper Terry Campese. Play was allowed to go on however and Reed passed to McGuire who went on a run across field before crossing over. The video referee confirmed the on field call in what was a tight decision and the Bronco's had themselves an 18-0 lead.
It was a pretty dour and at times sloppy second half, but the Raider's finally got a sniff after Raider's lock Fensom dived over in the 70th minute. Jarrod Croker's conversion attempt hit the left upright though to kill off any chance of a comeback.
Brisbane would cross for two soft tries in the final ten minutes to Ben Barba and Alex Glenn, sealing what proved a comfortable victory.
Both teams have the bye next week giving a few players a chance to recover from injuries. Andrew McCullough and Jack Reed both left the field late for Brisbane. While Canberra and Queensland will both be sweating on the fitness of Josh Papalii who limped off late with an ankle injury.