Karmichael Hunt’s NRL homecoming was soured by a commanding Canberra victory.
The home side skipped away to a 10-0 lead early and never looked back.
Sebastian Kris opened the Raiders’ account in the fourth minute, crossing the stripe through the quick hands of Jack Wighton and Bailey Simonsson.
Wighton was again involved, this time paving the way for Corey Harawira-Naera to streak into the backfield and score Canberra’s second try under the posts.
Brisbane kept within six courtesy of an absurd Herbie Farnworth and Tyson Gamble play. The fullback pulled out all stops to keep the ball alive, and his blind overhead flick found the outstretched toe of Gamble who finished it off.
Sam Williams put any hopes of a Broncos resurgence to bed for the short-term, finishing off a brilliant Matt Timoko run.
The Raiders’ lead was further extended when Emre Guler willed his way to the in-goal.
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It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the men in green, a costly Ryan Sutton error on the first play after points threatened to undo their hard work and opened the door for a late-half Brisbane try.
Last-minute Broncos inclusion Tesi Nui took it upon himself to make the most of the opportunity, putting them within 12 at the main break.
The 19-year-old taunted the Raiders defence with his fast and elusive feet before zipping through their line to score off his own kick. All on the second tackle.
It was fearless youth at its finest.
The second-half began in a deadlock, ultimately broken by Josh Papalii with what was a crucial try considering Canberra’s second-half woes of late.
The points came off the back of a brilliant Elliott Whitehead charge-down which allowed Simonsson to sprint what was nearly the length of the field, taking the Raiders from their own 20 to their attacking 20.
In a destructive mood, Canberra hit the scoreboard again soon after, their lead stretched to 22 thanks to a sharp Simonsson flick pass and scintillating Semi Valemei spin.
Brisbane’s first two tries had been nothing short of magic, and it would’ve taken some more to spark a comeback.
The hopes of which were done no favours when a contentious Kobe Hetherington send-off reduced the battling visitors to 12 men.
Wighton capitalised on the subsequent advantage and made a sure thing of the result, darting through the Broncos’ holes for the Raiders’ seventh try of the night.
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Staying true to their tune of magical tries, a no-look Jesse Arthars flick pass allowed Selwyn Cobbo to score his first NRL try.
Despite the highlight, it was far too little, far too late for the Broncos.
The Raiders were denied an instinctive try in the closing stages, the Bunker – again contentiously – ruling Jordan Rapana had pushed Farnworth before grounding the ball.
As frustrated as Canberra were, the decision didn’t spoil the party, the 38-16 victory reviving their slim finals hopes.