Veterans Jordan Rapana and Josh Papali’i stood tall as the Raiders handed Brisbane their first defeat of the season with a 20-14 triumph at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Coming off a 41-point drubbing at the hands of Penrith last week and with only one win on the board in 2023, the Green Machine restored pride with a gritty defensive display.
It was clear from the outset that the Raiders were up for the fight and they opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Jamal Fogarty, Corey Horsburgh, Seb Kris and Matt Timoko combined to put Rapana over in the corner.
The Broncos hit back in the 16th minute when Selwyn Cobbo produced a freakish putdown in the corner despite the attention of two Raiders defenders.
On the half hour mark Rapana made it a double when he jumped into dummy half and carried three Broncos over the line with him to give Canberra 12-4 lead.
Raiders playmaker Brad Schneider made a mistake from the kick-off and the Broncos should have made them pay but Reece Walsh chose to try and flick the ball to Cobbo when he could have scored himself.
An offside penalty against the Broncos in the closing minutes of the half gave Jarrod Croker an easy shot at goal and the Green Machine led by 10.
The Broncos needed just three minutes in the second half to find their groove with Jordan Riki grabbing a try after Albert Hopoate made a mess of an Adam Reynolds grubber kick.
On the back of a Zac Woolford burst out of dummy half the Raiders marched down field and grabbed their third of the game when Hopoate flew high to bring down a Fogarty kick and plunge over wide out. Croker converted from touch to make it 20-10 to Canberra.
A lost ball by Hopoate 40 metres out from his own line put the Raiders under pressure but their defence stood tall even in the face of three consecutive six-again calls for Brisbane.
With eight minutes to play the Broncos set up a grandstand finish when Ezra Mam delivered the final pass for Jesse Arthars to cross in the corner with a spectacular finish.
The Raiders lost Rapana with three minutes to play when he copped an accidental knee to the head from Martin Taupau after taking a bomb.
Rapana suffered a bad head cut and was taken from the field on a medicab, leaving his teammates to put the finishing touches on their first win over the Broncos at Suncorp since 2010.