NRL: Broncos re-ignite race to top four

Broncos forward Sam Thaiday celebrates scoring a try during his side's 20-10 defeat of the Bulldogs. Photo / Getty Images
Broncos forward Sam Thaiday celebrates scoring a try during his side's 20-10 defeat of the Bulldogs. Photo / Getty Images

Just when the NRL top-four race looked done, Brisbane re-ignited the contest with a 20-10 win over Canterbury on Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium.

The Broncos' third consecutive win lifts them to fifth on the ladder with 30 points, just two behind the Bulldogs, with two rounds of the home-and-away season to go.

Canterbury face sixth-placed North Queensland (28pts) next weekend in a game which will also have a huge bearing on the top-four positions.

Despite the potential distraction of a club investigation into an alleged drunken incident involving centre James Roberts last weekend, Brisbane started brightly against an opponent who thrashed them 40-14 in round 16.

Tom Opacic's opener in the 12th minute put the Broncos on their way before the visitors struck back with Brett Morris' fourth try of the season against Brisbane.

Broncos halfback Ben Hunt made the most of a fortunate bounce off Bulldogs hooker Michael Lichaa right on the stroke of halftime to give the hosts a 10-4 lead.

Brisbane then absorbed a Bulldogs onslaught at the start of the second half before Sam Thaiday crashed over in the 57th minute to give the Broncos a 16-4 lead.

Sam Kasiano responded for the Bulldogs 12 minutes later but that was the end of the scoring.

The giant Bulldogs' forward might also find himself in hot water after appearing to kick Brisbane captain Corey Parker in the face late in the game - an incident which left the Broncos livid.

Kasiano said "I didn't mean it ... sorry," when he shook hands with Parker after the match.

Brisbane winger Corey Oates failed to finish the match after he copped a heavy knock to his cheek midway through the second half.

Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett said whether Kasiano's kick was deliberate or not, it certainly caused concern in the Broncos' camp.

"Well, Corey's getting stitches now in his face," Bennett said.

"If he (Kasiano) didn't do it with force, I don't think he'd be getting stitches in his face.

"I'll leave it to the NRL to make their judgment on it."

Bulldogs coach Des Hasler refused to speculate on the incident, saying he'd leave it to the match review committee to make a ruling.

Hasler was livid with his team's poor completion in the second half, saying they'd brought the defeat on themselves with their inability to retain possession.

"To put it bluntly, we were inept with the ball in the second half," he said.

"In the last month, last five weeks, it's just crept back in. If we don't react to it and we don't sort it out, then you can't be competitive.

- AAP

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