Broncos arrest their slide, McGuire stands tall, Leilua's Origin audition falls flat and Bennett's bench switch works wonders.
Broncos win out in statement game for both teams
The Broncos arrived at Suncorp Stadium desperate to prove their slump was merely a stumble and the Raiders to prove they were genuine contenders but it was the home side who came out with their reputation enhanced. The Raiders dominated territory and possession for the opening 20 minutes but threw little more at the Broncos defence than one-out hit-ups from their forwards around the ruck. As a result they came up empty handed and then when the Broncos had their opportunities were unable to defend their errors. A retreating defensive line saw Darius Boyd slide between defenders to score a hat-trick in the space of 14 minutes either side of half-time to blow the Raiders off the park. Canberra bridged the gap late to bring respectability to the scoreline and hope to their fans but after they failed to capitalise early were always kept at more than arm's length. The Broncos were better without being great but the Raiders showed they are still a long way from challenging for a spot in the top four.
McGuire measures up to Canberra monsters
Looking all the world like a Test and Origin representative, Josh McGuire stood up to the massive Raiders forward pack in the opening 20 minutes and was the only Broncos forward making a dent in the Canberra defence. By half-time he had more than 130 metres and when Jordan Rapana offloaded on a kick return despite the attention of three Brisbane tacklers it was McGuire's desperation that secured possession that led directly to Darius Boyd's first try of the night 11 minutes before half-time. He finished with 216 metres from 25 hit-ups and is growing in stature with every game that he plays.
Leilua's Origin audition falls flat
Like his Canberra teammates Joseph Leilua rides the highs when the team is flying but showed against the Broncos why he can't yet be trusted in the Origin arena. Although the Blues may be looking for more strike for Origin II Leilua's penetrating runs and offloads are countered by errors, ill-discipline and brain explosions that can't be risked in a must-win Origin game at the same venue.
Bennett's bench switch works wonders
He spoke on the eve of the match of not wanting to sit on his hands hoping for things to change and Wayne Bennett's reorganisation of his bench was another master stroke on Thursday night. Having already demoted Adam Blair to the bench Bennett promoted Jarrod Wallace into the starting team at the expense of Sam Thaiday and the two Test stars changed the momentum of the game when they were introduced. Blair brought immediate energy to the Broncos when he came on in the 24th minute and Thaiday terrorised the Raiders' right-edge defence when he took the field seven minutes before half-time. It's a 17-man game in 2016 and Bennett got the balance just right.
Parker's age-defying display for Fantasy faithful
He's been an automatic selection in NRL Fantasy teams for years and Corey Parker rewarded those coaches who have remained faithful on a night where he joined Brad Fittler in fourth position on the all-time list of games played.
In his 336th game in the top grade Parker opened the scoring with the first try of the night, was a perfect five-from-five having resumed the goal-kicking duties and ran for 162 metres and made 24 tackles in a performance that yielded 74 Fantasy points.
"I can only hope when I played my 336th game I looked that sharp," Fittler said in commentary for Channel Nine.