Jamayne Isaako shot life into a dour NRL affair to end Brisbane’s 13-game NRL losing streak as the Broncos overcame an ugly first half to beat Canterbury 24-0.
Not since the sides last met 259 days ago had the Broncos won, both teams finishing with 3-17 records last season and arriving on Saturday behind back-to-back defeats to start this season.
And they played like wins had become a foreign concept, errors punctuating a painstaking first half in which Isaako’s penalty goal was the only point-scoring play.
The theme continued in the second half before the Brisbane fullback emphatically ended the stalemate with a solo try in the 60th minute, zig-zagging by his opposite number Corey Allan.
He then broke the line again to set up winger Xavier Coates to give Kevin Walters breathing room as the rookie coach prepared to celebrate his first NRL win.
Coates wasn’t done though, leaping to take a kick and sprinting 60m through traffic for his second.
Walters had heaped pressure on his underperforming halves Brodie Croft and Anthony Milford by adding halfback Tom Dearden to the bench.
The 19-year-old was only introduced in the 73rd minute but still snagged a try, winning the race to an impressive Herbie Farnworth kick.
The win was a pressure reliever for the Broncos, who have heavyweight quartet Melbourne, South Sydney, Penrith and Parramatta to play over the next month.
“When you play for the Broncos there’s always pressure to win … it’s been a long drought and the players feel that naturally,” Walters said.
“We were a bit scrappy and the Bulldogs were too … we had to fix a few things, which they did.
“It was a good start for us, but we’ve got a long road ahead.”
The Bulldogs had their chances and looked more likely before Isaako’s game-breaking play.
But they only had themselves to blame, Adam Elliott and Kyle Flanagan combining to bomb a certain try when Elliott hesitated to throw the final pass with only Isaako to beat.
Flanagan fumbled the ill-directed pass off his head and onto the ground as he ran under the posts.
The listless performance, against a team that conceded a club-record 624 points last season, was another nightmare for coach Trent Barrett to follow a 28-0 loss to Penrith in the wet last week.
“The first half probably reflected where both teams were sitting… a pretty dour affair,” Barrett said.
“The missed opportunity where we should have scored in the first half and I thought we had enough possession in the second half but didn’t apply any pressure.
“That’s the most disappointing thing, that we had an opportunity to win that game.”
Bulldogs pair Josh Jackson and Renouf Atoni were placed on report for dangerous tackles while Barrett feared hooker Jeremy Marshall-King had broken his foot.
Thanks to the latest COVID case, Brisbane now face an uncertain wait ahead of Friday’s game against the Storm in Melbourne.
They are set to enter a degree of isolation following Saturday’s match and could fly to Melbourne on Tuesday to ensure they can be tested, while the game could also be moved to Sydney.