Brisbane shrugged off a week of judiciary dramas and the late withdrawal of star half Peter Wallace to record a fifth straight NRL win over Canberra on Friday night.
The Raiders’ 30-6 loss was made even more painful due to the half-time loss of skipper Terry Campese with suspected medial ligament damage.
One of several players being considered by coach Ricky Stuart for the NSW Origin five-eighth job, Campese will have scans on Monday.
His latest knee injury however is not as serious as that suffered in 2010 with initial indications he could be out for two to four weeks.
Brisbane took the field without Wallace (groin) and Ben Te’o, who was suspended on Wednesday night for two matches, but their absence was barely noticeable as young guns Ben Hunt and man-of-the-match Corey Norman, who continues to improve with every game, produced outstanding performances in the halves.
The Raiders were on the job early with forward Joe Picker winning a scramble to halfback Josh McCrone’s fourth-minute grubber for a 6-0 lead.
But the Green Machine ran out of fuel early as Brisbane piled on tries to Sam Thaiday (19th minute), Ben Hannant (28th), Matt Gillett (35th) and Norman (39th) for a 20-6 half-time lead.
With Campese out of action, a Canberra recovery was always going to be difficult.
It became impossible when Hunt was rewarded with a long range try in the 53rd minute, set up by a weaving run out of dummy half by centre Justin Hodges, who evaded four defenders before off-loading.
Utility Gillett put more pressure on Australian selectors to pick him for the Test against New Zealand with two classy passages of play late in the first half.
The first displayed his footwork and strength in beating hooker Glen Buttriss and fullback Reece Robinson for his fourth try of the season.
The second, a last ditch flick pass for the first of Norman’s two tries, was even better.
Hunt and Norman, who had played a lot together in Brisbane’s Under-20 side, combined superbly with Hunt making the most of his opportunity to shine in Wallace’s absence.
Canberra late inclusion Joel Thompson was put on report in the 48th minute for a swinging arm in a tackle which missed the mark and hit teammate Picker who finished with close to 50 tackles.
Brisbane fullback Josh Hoffman sent a message to New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney with a tireless performance, clocking up 250 metres despite taking some heavy punishment.