It had all been going so well.

Canberra were by far the better side for ten minutes, with Jamal Fogarty giving the Brisbane back three kittens with his high kicking and the entire game being played at the Broncos’ end of the field.

Then, after barely entering the Raiders’ half, Reece Walsh manoeuvred past Matt Timoko and raced clear, opening the floodgates for 20 minutes – literally, too, as the heavens opened – in which the game was ended as a contest.

It finished 34-10, but the heavy defeat was the least of Ricky Stuart’s problems.

Fogarty, by far their most influential player for the last two years, left at half time with a suspected bicep tear ahead of a month that includes crunch meetings with the Sharks, Sea Eagles and Roosters.

Were it to be that, he would be looking at a month on the sidelines minimum, potentially several if it were severe.

Without the calming hand of their halfback, not to mention his hugely influential kicking, things look very difficult indeed.

This was an early indication of that. The Broncos were rampant, but didn’t have to be brilliant to come away with a comfortable win.

Chevy Stewart, the 18-year-old fullback, was ruthlessly targeted with towering bombs, while his opposite number, Walsh, tore the edges apart.

Kevin Walters’ side are looking very threatening indeed. They’ve endured a middling start with a few tough away trips and a raft of key position injuries, but with bodies coming back and the fixtures looking more amenable, they can aim up.

Chevy backfires, then accelerates

If you offered a dream situation in which to debut, then at home to the Titans might be it. Chevy Stewart did well in that regard.

As far as nightmare second games go, however, a wet night against the Broncos in Brisbane might well be it, especially for a fullback.

Stewart spilled two bombs, one that might have lead to a try had James Schiller not bailed him out and one that did when Ezra Mam tapped on for an easy putdown.

He was posted missing as Billy Walters picked up and ran from dummy half, leaving a big gap to kick into for another score.

In between, the rookie fullback had also been manhandled back into his own in-goal after having escaped, though to his immense credit, the next time he was trapped, the 18-year-old showed no fear and got himself out.

That lack of fear didn’t exactly help when, just before half time, he returned a kick with interest and was smashed into the middle of next week by Kobe Hetherington.

The aerial assault kept coming, and so did the teenager.

Sticky mightn’t have been pleased with the errors in the first half, but he is a guy who values ticker – and Stewart, on this evidence, has buckets of it.

The bombs kept coming, Chevy caught them. When he did, he was often postage stamped by onriushing Broncos. He got up, played the ball, and got one with it.

It’s easy to play when things go your way. For a long period tonight, that wasn’t the case for Stewart, but the manner in which he kept coming back can only stand him in good stead going forward.

Brisbane are cooking

We saw Walsh back to his best tonight, bamboozling Timoko for the opener and then splitting the other side wide open for a second before half time.

Ezra Mam got on the scoresheet too, as did Jordan Riki, and both Pat Carrigan and Kotoni Staggs got early marks with the game won.

This, remember, is a side that is without Adam Reynolds and Payne Haas, arguably their two most influential players, both of whom will be back imminently.

Walsh is probably their best player, but all his class comes off the back of the kick and control of the halfback and the go-forward that comes from the front rower.

This hasn’t been a vintage start from Brisbane – albeit with plenty beyond their control – but they’ll get a solid block of fixtures now in which they are either at home or playing bottom four sides.

This was a game they lost last year, and the Raiders have proven they can be very difficult to put away.

This Canberra are a little different in that they throw a little more in attack and have a few younger faces in the side, but they are by no means easybeats. The Broncos thrashed them.

Last week saw Brisbane to the same to the Dolphins, who suddenly look like world beaters after last night’s win over Parramatta.

It’s ominous stuff. They’re warming nicely.





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