In Round 5 both the Brisbane Broncos and the Sydney Roosters suffered a loss. By the end of Thursday night, there’ll be one team consigned to a losing streak while the other will wrap up two points and put themselves in a better position in the top 8 logjam.

Last Time Out

The Broncos went down to the Dogs 10-7 in a slog of a wet weather game. The team looked bereft of attacking ideas and their only try came off a flukey play. Anthony Milford kicked the ball over the defensive line from the halfway mark on 2nd tackle with no fullback in cover defence and the loose ball was pounced on by Sam Thaiday. Brain snaps cost them dearly as Jordan Kahu pulled off one of the all-time great Rugby League blunders. He picked a ball up off a short drop-out before it had gone 10m and dived over the line thinking he was a genius for scoring the easiest try of his life. That was not the case and the Broncos were penalised leading to a try for the Dogs in the ensuing set.

The Roosters went neck and neck with Cherry-Evans and his Sea Eagles team in a narrow 18-12 loss. Their attack was unusually pedestrian as they consistently targeted the wrong winger with the high ball. However their defence kept strong and they were able to keep on equal terms with a much more energetic Manly side. Late in the game though something had to give and when Brian Kelly shifted in-field and sent a pass for Dylan Walker to charge through a gap, it was all over for the Chooks. The fact Mitchell Pearce shanked an easy field goal earlier didn’t help matters either.

Key Battle

The halves battle. To be specific the form of Anthony Milford. Being outpaced by Thaiday in a chase to the ball is comical enough without the fact the man he beat is their young running 5/8. Ben Hunt has risen above the level of criticism aimed at him to lead the Broncos around this year. Nobody can question the effort he’s giving out on the field. Milford on the other hand is well off the mark and if he’s dancing around without a clue looking for someone to offload the ball to then the Broncos won’t produce the points necessary to beat the Roosters.

As for the pair of Luke Keary and Mitchell Pearce they don’t need to do much more than keep on keeping on. Last week against the Sea Eagles their tactic of constantly kicking to Akuila Uate was absolutely dire and only served to increase his confidence with every catch. However neither player is under-performing where they need to address aspects of their game to match it with the Broncos. Pearce in particular stands to secure an Origin spot with another great performance which ironically would probably make QLD fans happier than NSW ones.

Whichever halves pair is firing on the night will win the game for their team, pure and simple.

Prediction

The Broncos faced the Top 4 sides of 2016 in the first four weeks of 2017 and were competitive in all of them including the losses. Any suggestions they’re playing poorly are greatly exaggerated. Their attack is not quite what it has been in seasons past though.

The Roosters have been playing well to start the year but haven’t quite had to face the same level of opposition the Broncos have. However the team is all in relatively good form and their new combinations are gelling quickly and effectively.

Hard to predict a winner here. If the Broncos win it’ll be by a Jordan Kahu field goal, otherwise the Roosters snatch a win with a late try. Roosters by 6

Squads
Brisbane Broncos
1. Darius Boyd (c)
2. Corey Oates
3. James Roberts
4. Tautau Moga
5. Jordan Kahu
6. Anthony Milford
7. Ben Hunt
8. Korbin Sims
9. Andrew McCullough
10. Adam Blair
11. Sam Thaiday
12. Matt Gillett
13. Josh McGuire
Interchange:
14. Alex Glenn
15. Tevita Pangai Junior
16. Herman Ese’ese
18. Kodi Nikorima
Reserves:
17. Jai Arrow
19. George Fai
20. David Mead
21. Joe Ofahengaue

Sydney Roosters
1. Michael Gordon
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Blake Ferguson
5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
6. Luke Keary
7. Mitchell Pearce
8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
9. Jake Friend (c)
10. Isaac Liu
11. Boyd Cordner (c)
12. Mitchell Aubusson
13. Aidan Guerra
Interchange:
14. Kane Evans
15. Zane Tetevano
16. Ryan Matterson
17. Connor Watson
Reserves:
18. Joseph Manu
19. Eloni Vunakece
20. Lindsay Collins
22. Mitchell Cornish