A brave Brisbane side has survived a second-half onslaught from the Bulldogs to record a thrilling 18-12 season-opening victory before a crowd of 18,040 at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
The visitors raced out to a 14-0 lead after 27 minutes but failed to score until a deserved game-sealing try to winger Lachlan Maranta with six minutes remaining, holding on by the skin of their teeth as the home side sent wave after wave of man-mountain attack at them in the final 20 minutes.
After second-rower Tony Williams crashed over in the 53rd minute, Bulldogs skipper Michael Ennis was held up twice in the space of three tackles in the final 10 minutes, and a game-winner looked inevitable as the Broncos quickly began to fade.
But the Broncos, led by strong efforts from forwards Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett and Alex Glenn – as well as a mature performance by winger Lachlan Maranta – were able to overcome severe fatigue to score an impressive road win.
Arguably they owe their win to a determined win by centre and try-scorer Dale Copley who split the Dogs open after his side had endured a testing 10-minute period in defence.
The youngster was able to break the Dogs' defence and race 40 metres, before tackler Chase Stanley was penalised for holding Copley down.
The momentum resulted in Maranta crossing for what would prove the match-winner.
Coach Anthony Griffin's experiment of switching Barba and Josh Hoffman in attack and defence showed promising signs early, with the former Bulldog involved in the opening two tries.
Brisbane got off to a hot start, earning a 12-0 lead within 15 minutes on the back of some well-rehearsed set plays.
And indeed it was Barba who orchestrated the first try in the seventh minute, avoiding a rushing Josh Morris before sending a calculated grubber for centre Copley in the right corner. Parker's extras gave his side the perfect start.
Their advantage doubled just eight minutes later with Barba again involved, this time linking with halfback Ben Hunt who in turn found left winger Daniel Vidot hugging the sideline and forcing the ball down over Corey Thompson inside the corner post.
A simple penalty goal for Hunt in the 27th minute gave the Broncos a comfortable 14-0 lead.
The tide turned in the 33rd minute when Martin Kennedy was put on report for a high shot on James Graham. Tempers flared quickly as Ennis and Kennedy exchanged heated words, but the Bulldogs got the last laugh when Morris soared through the air to take a Trent Hodkinson bomb and reduce the margin to 14-6 at halftime.
Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough, who was named man of the match, was put on report in the second half for making contact to the head of Bulldogs winger Mitch Brown. Brown came off under the new concussion rule and failed to return.
For the second game in a row in 2014 some big metres were made by both teams, with Brisbane running for 1959 metres and Canterbury making 1733. There wasn't a lot in the possession stakes with Brisbane boasting a 52 per cent advantage. However the visitors were far more effective in attack, making four line breaks to one.
Brisbane 18 (Copley, Vidot, Maranta tries; Parker 2, Hunt goals) def Canterbury-Bankstown 12 (Morris, Williams tries; Hodkinson 2 goals). Crowd: 18,040.