A potential season-ending knee injury for star centre Jack Bird has soured Brisbane's 26-10 NRL win over Manly at Suncorp Stadium.
The Broncos notched just their third victory of the season on Friday night 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.
But the hosts paid a huge price with Bird going down in the 60th minute with a suspected ACL injury.
Bird had impressed at 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 back into his side with the Broncos coach fearing the worst for Bird, who looked primed for a NSW recall.
"I don't want to prejudge what we are going to find but it seems to be quite bad," Seibold said.
"He was quite upset in the change rooms. That is not a good sign.
"But it is good to have a quality replacement in Jimmy there."
The injury-hit Sea Eagles also failed to emerge unscathed.
Already with more than $3 million worth of talent including Daly Cherry-Evans, Tom Trbojevic, Dylan Walker, Lachlan Croker and Jorge Taufua sidelined, Manly lost centre Moses Suli (finger), Api Koroisau (calf) and Toafofoa Sipley (broken leg) on Friday night.
The only consolation for coach Des Hasler was centre Dylan Walker being found not guilty of domestic violence charges earlier on Friday and is now a chance of making a return next week.
"It's a great thing for Dylan. We will wait on the NRL integrity unit to deliberate over weekend but I think they will deal with it quite quickly - he's a chance of being available (next week)," Hasler said.
Brisbane five-eighth Milford sliced through in the 35th minute to lock up the scores at 6-6 by halftime and the hosts didn't look back with winger Corey Oates (44th minute), back-rower Matt Gillett (53rd) and Boyd (64th) crossing for the battling Broncos.
Oates became 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.
"At half-time we were in the game, but they just wore us down unfortunately," Hasler said.
"We ran out of time and ran out of players."