Milford fires to inspire Broncos NRL win

Laine Clark
Milford fires to inspire Broncos NRL win

Only something special, it seemed, was going to redeem Anthony Milford after the Brisbane pivot's mistake-riddled first half in the NRL clash with Canberra.

He left it late but Milford produced on Saturday night, slicing through the Raiders' defence to score a solo 72nd-minute try to help ice Brisbane's vital 26-22 win in front of 30,495 fans at Suncorp Stadium.

He went from zero to hero in the second stanza, setting up another two tries and having a hand in another as the Broncos fought back from 16-0 down at halftime.

But coach Wayne Bennett claims he didn't say anything at halftime to spark Brisbane's sixth win in eight games.

"If we play like we did in the first half, we won't be in the competition (finals). We've got to get our acts together for two halves," he said.

"It was probably one of our poorest performances in the first half.

"(But) I didn't say anything at halftime. Less is better than more sometimes."

In Milford's Jekyll-and-Hyde display, his woeful first half did no favours for his chances of being picked as a Queensland utility for State of Origin III.

The stage was set for Milford to fire against his former club and provide a reminder to Maroons selectors, with Queensland bench utility Kalyn Ponga (hamstring) in doubt, but Milford couldn't take a trick as Canberra raced to a 16-0 halftime lead.

His dire half was summed up when he tried to bust through the Raiders' line, only to grass a pushed pass and let Canberra back-rower Elliott Whitehead waltz 35m to score untouched in just the third minute.

But Bennett baulked at heaping praise on Milford.

"Everyone was off in the first half and everyone was on in the first half," he said.

It was a crucial win for eighth-placed Brisbane, who are three victories ahead of nearest top-eight threats the Raiders.

It marked a club-record sixth-straight win over Canberra. Their previous best of five-straight victories against the Raiders was from 1991 to 1993.

It was a gutsy effort by Brisbane, who were rocked by the withdrawal of Queensland hopeful Joe Ofahengaue (virus).

He joined fellow forward Tevita Pangai (ribs) on the sidelines, while Brisbane also lost hard-working Jaydn Su'A late in the first half to concussion.

Ofahengaue's replacement, young forward David Fifita, impressed in his Broncos debut, becoming the first player born in the 2000s to play NRL.

The loss added to a horror week for Canberra, who stood down fullback Jack Wighton after he pleaded guilty to assault charges on Thursday.

Brad Abbey also made his debut, replacing Wighton at fullback.