A gallant second half has seen the Brisbane Broncos scrape home 30-20 winners over the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.
The Raiders took a 16-14 lead into the half-time break but it was Brisbane who would storm to three second-half tries to Canberra’s one to hand the men in green their third loss on the trot.
Canberra tightened the screws in the early stages of the second 40 when Elliott Whitehead and Joey Leilua combined forces to ragdoll David Mead back into the in-goal to force a goal-line drop-out.
But it was Wayne Bennett’s men who would impact on the scoreboard.
First came a try to Matt Gillett in the 50th minute when the Queensland representative latched on to a deft Ben Hunt grubber.
A try to Joe Ofahengaue would follow eight minutes later before Jordan Kahu extended the visitors’ lead to 24-16.
The seesawing affair would continue when Leilua willed his way over in a three-man gang tackle to score just inside the right corner post in the 67th minute.
Blake Austin pathed the way for Leilua’s ninth try of the year when he split the Broncos’ defence from 40 metres out before the Samoan international crossed in the following tackle to cut the deficit to 24-20.
But the Broncos again flexed their muscles, Matt Gillett slicing through on the right edge to put the result beyond all doubt.
The Green Machine looked as oiled as ever early in the clash when Jordan Rapana tore up the right wing to boulder the Raiders into optimal field territory.
The Kiwi international crossed on the right edge after the ball had been swung back in his direction later in the set, but it was deemed that he had collected a forward pass.
It was Brisbane who drew first blood when Corey Oates barraged his way over on the left edge six minutes in, Kahu adding the extras to hand his side a 6-0 lead.
But the Raiders would waste no time in locking things up, fullback Jack Wighton throwing on his dance shoes to carve up a frail Broncos defence.
Captain Jarrod Croker made no mistake from the tee before bagging a four-pointer of his own just two minutes later, collecting a Josh Papalii offload to slice through on the left edge.
Another successful conversion handed the Raiders a 12-6 lead.
The scores were again brought level after Alex Glenn steamed onto a pinpoint Benji Marshall ball in the 22nd minute, Kahu adding the two points to lock things up 12-apiece.
Canberra came agonisingly close to again clawing back the lead moments later, but a desperate Brisbane defence would prevent Croker from finding Wighton on his inside on the Broncos’ line.
The men in green did gain the ascendancy when blossoming winger Nick Cotric collected the crumbs of a wayward Hunt pass on the Raiders’ line to race away for an against-the-run-of-play try and hand the hosts a 16-12 lead.
Mead did his best to grapple Cotric to the ground in an electrifying two-horse race that brought the crowd to its feet, but the 18-year-old would manage to deny the former Titan in his attempts.
Kahu banged over a penalty goal on the stroke of half-time as the Raiders took a 16-14 lead into the break before the Broncos ran away with game in the second stanza.
The Raiders will look to remain in contention with the top eight when they host a North Queensland Cowboys outfit missing Johnathan Thurston next Saturday night.