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NRL match preview: New Zealand Warriors vs Brisbane Broncos

Date: Saturday June 21
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Kick-off: 7:30pm (local)

Teams

Warriors: Sam Tomkins, David Fusitua, Konrad Hurrell, Ngani Laumape, Manu Vatuvei, Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Nathan Friend, Sam Rapira, Jayson Bukuya, Simon Mannering, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Interchange: Feleti Mateo, Suaia Matagi, Charlie Gubb, Ben Henry

Broncos: Ben Barba, Daniel Vidot, Jack Reed, Dale Copley, Lachlan Maranta, Josh Hoffman, Ben Hunt, Josh McGuire, Jake Granville, Ben Hannant, Alex Glenn, Corey Oates, Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Jarrod Wallace, David Stagg, David Hala, Francis Molo

Preview

The Brisbane Broncos side hitched the wagons and flew out to New Zealand very early on Thursday morning. This dawn excursion will have allowed for little to no rest for members of the Queensland State of Origin squad who’d gone down to a fighting-fit New South Wales in a dramatic series loss  the night before.

Straight into it, the Broncos squads were out and about training in the central reaches of Auckland the next day as they began to ready themselves for a what will not be an easy outing. Down a skipper (Corey Parker, facial fracture) and a starting hooker (Andrew McCullough), the side will find themselves in very testing circumstances at Mt Smart Stadium tonight. A decision is due today on whether or not Origin starts Sam Thaiday and Matt Gillett will take to the field.

The Warriors, in their first outing after the bye week, are set to field a full-strength side at their spiritual home in Penrose, Auckland. Crowd attendance has been high and both media coverage and fan morale have both remained fairly positive over the past fortnight since the loss to South Sydney over in Perth. Fan favourite Charlie Gubb’s been named on the interchange bench with Ben Henry, who returns to the side from injury. Running with them, Suaia Matagi and Feleti Mateo will look to make a big impact as the interchange kicks in.

On Thursday evening’s Stero programme, host Matty Johns touched on the Warriors’ inconsistency and reliance on game-to-game momentum as a tipping factor. Ultimately tipping the Broncos to probably “go over there and win it” Johns conceded they were up against a Warriors side capable of running over anyone.

The Warriors will rely on a big home crowd and a mid-season surge of motivation to carry them home tonight. They’re primed, ready and rearing to do the business up front. Their Queensland opponents have conceded few tries, attacked strongly and held a fifth place on the ladder in recent weeks. They’ll look to senior forwards like Ben Hannant and Alex Glenn to lead the charge and up the ante, before turning to the likes of Daniel Vidot and Dale Copley’s strength, speed and size on the back line fringes.

Expect a see-saw encounter with zeal, broken play and two very competitive and vocal fan bases in the stands.

Prediction

Broncos by 6

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