Broncos 28 Raiders 4
A dejected Josh McCrone after the 28-4 loss to Brisbane. Photo: Melissa Adams
Canberra proved why it's been aggressively chasing big-name recruits after a stuttering attacking display in a 28-4 home loss to Brisbane on Monday night.
In front of just 8094 fans, the Raiders (4-9) lacked the polish to trouble the in-form Broncos, and will enter this week's bye with their season in disarray.
Canberra's plight was compounded by an ankle injury which will sideline Josh Papalii for three to four weeks, ruling him out of Queensland's side for Origin II.
Canberra Raiders v Brisbane Broncos
The Canberra Raiders took on the Brisbane Broncos at GIO Stadium. Photo: Melissa Adams
The Raiders had a dramatic build-up, with West Tigers fullback James Tedesco using the round 13 rule to renege on a rich three-year deal he signed with Canberra.
The club's quest to lure Penrith's Josh Mansour, Canterbury skipper Michael Ennis and Kevin Proctor also came to nought.
Coach Ricky Stuart was composed after the match, but is seemingly resigned to the fact he's lacking a couple of class players which would transform the Raiders into a competitive force.
He insisted the Tedesco saga wasn't a distraction, and won't deter his desire to rebuild the club.
"That hasn't affected us, we'll just move on to the next decision we need to make,'' Stuart said.
"We're not the only club who's missed out on a player, or who this has happened to.
"We're just not getting our rewards at the moment. A missed tackle and two dropped bombs and you're 18-0 behind.
"It's frustrating because I see the effort and desire the boys are putting in. It's certainly not through a lack of commitment.''
After dominating possession and field position early, the Broncos finally broke through after 25 minutes when a Justin Hodges break set up a try to winger Dale Copley.
Five minutes later Raiders winger Reece Robinson, who had a night to forget, dropped a bomb, allowing Copley to pounce and score his second four-pointer.
Canberra was forced to make 46 more tackles in the opening half hour, and that workload eventually told as Brisbane built a 12-0 half-time lead.
The Broncos virtually sealed the match when prop Josh McGuire scored early in the second half.
Canberra looked to have a lifeline when lock Shaun Fensom swooped on a Papalii offload to score with 11 minutes left.
But sharpshooter Jarrod Croker missed a straightforward conversion which would have reduced the gap to 12.
Canberra looked listless in attack and even the injection of young half Mitch Cornish off the bench failed to ignite them in the second half.
Raiders prop Paul Vaughan (crusher tackle) and Brisbane forwards Todd Lowrie (lifting tackle) and Josh McGuire (high tackle) were all placed on report for second half incidents.
Corey Parker and McGuire were outstanding for Brisbane, while Shaun Fensom and Paul Vaughan led the way for Canberra.
BRISBANE BRONCOS 28 (Dale Copley 2, Josh McGuire, Ben Barba, Alex Glenn tries; Ben Hunt 3, Corey Parker goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 4 (Shaun Fensom try). At Canberra Stadium on Monday night. Crowd: 8094. Referees: Adam Devcich and Adam Gee.