A potential season-ending knee injury for star centre Jack Bird has soured Brisbane's 26-10 NRL win over Manly at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
The Broncos notched just their third victory of the season after under fire captain Darius Boyd and playmaker Anthony Milford silenced their critics by inspiring the round nine triumph in front of 41,388 fans.
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But the hosts paid a huge price with Bird going down in the 60th minute with a suspected ACL injury.
A distraught Bird tried to stay on the field but was eventually escorted off in a huge blow to the rejuvenated Broncos.
Bird had looked good on the right centre in a backline reshuffle after coach Anthony Seibold had bit the bullet and dumped NSW centre James Roberts and winger Jamayne Isaako for the Sea Eagles clash.
But it seems Seibold will be forced to inject Roberts into his side after Bird went down.
The injury-hit Sea Eagles also didn't emerge unscathed.
Already without more than $3 million worth of talent with Daly Cherry-Evans, Tom Trbojevic, Dylan Walker, Lachlan Croker and Jorge Taufua sidelined, Manly also lost centre Moses Suli (finger), Api Koroisau (calf) and Toafofoa Sipley (broken leg) on Friday night.
Sea Eagles centre Brad Parker also copped a head knock but later returned to the field.
There were alarm bells for Brisbane when skipper Boyd was again caught out defensively as Manly hooker Koroisau burrowed over from dummy half in just the ninth minute.
And the Sea Eagles were unlucky not to have extended their lead with rookie winger Abbas Miski denied tries in the 20th (obstruction) and 32nd minute (forward pass).
But five-eighth Milford locked up the scores at 6-6 by halftime, slicing through to score in the 35th minute after a great run by centre Kotoni Staggs.
The hosts didn't look back with winger Corey Oates (44th minute), back-rower Matt Gillett (53rd) and that man Boyd (64th) crossing to provide a welcome shot in the arm for the battling Broncos.
Oates ran off a sublime Boyd cut out pass to become the first player to notch 50 tries at Suncorp Stadium.
Milford set up another two tries before back-rower David Fifita iced the result with a 78th-minute four-pointer.