Brisbane Broncos run down makeshift Canterbury Bulldogs

“Disappointing. Last week was similar. We’re still searching for 80 minutes. Disappointed the scoreline got to where it was at the back end. We let it get away from us there,” Barrett said.

“Our set ends, compared to where Reynolds was giving us the ball, was completely different. We’re still working out that you can’t solve things on your own in tight contests.”

Reynolds was the best player on the field but Brisbane have a headline act in Selwyn Cobbo. The winger scored a late double, the second of which was a spectacular piece of work in the corner as he hauled in an impossible ball and planted it just before the dead-ball line.

Te Maire Martin was another good story for Brisbane, returning from what looked to be a career-ending brain bleed when he was forced into retirement two years ago. On Friday, he returned at fullback and contributed strongly, catching his kicks, making his tackles and returning the ball with vision and vigour.

The Bulldogs, on the other hand, were forced into a host of swift changes as Brent Naden, Jake Averillo, Ava Seumanufagai and Reece Hoffman all dropped out of the initial team when COVID swept through the ranks.

That would lead to debuts for Jacob Kiraz and Billy Tsikrikas, a teacher at Endeavour Sports High School, who were both parachuted into the 17 despite being outside of the club’s top 30. Both were obscure enough to warrant a black silhouette instead of a photo on the NRL website and both earned their stripes, especially the impressive Kiraz.

Before the match had even begun, there was high drama after a heckler began shouting during The Last Post and minute of silence to commemorate Anzac Day. He was accosted by a furious fellow patron, then clipped twice in the jaw as he tumbled over rows of chairs.

Nearby fans did little to intervene as the man, wearing a Brisbane jersey, was given more rough treatment from the irate Bulldogs supporter, instead telling him to leave the stadium after the show of abject disrespect during the ceremony.

On the field, the Broncos weren’t faring much better than their embattled supporter. Payne Haas went off after seven minutes with a shoulder injury as the Bulldogs set up an early lead when centre Aaron Schoupp put it on a platter for Josh Addo-Carr in the 17th minute.

The NSW Origin winger made it a double just over 10 minutes later, by which time Haas had returned but Brisbane were trailing 10-0 and looking messy before Corey Oates swept across the field like the Queen Mary and steamed through a gap on a set play to get the home side on the board.

Dufty gave the Dogs momentum again but it all fell apart when Corey Paix forced his way over from close range. From there it was the Reynolds and Cobbo show.

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