A battle of powerhouse teams sees the Broncos travel to the capital and take on the Raiders, as both sides are looking for a solid win through a tough Origin period. The Broncos come off a tight win over the Rabbitohs and a bye round, while the Raiders were heartbroken with a last minute loss to the Panthers as well as a bye last week.
Last Time Out:
The Raiders played the Panthers in Bathurst for a special away game, a game between two proposed top 4 sides in 2017, but both failing to fulfill their potential. The Raiders struggled to obtain a lot of the ball in the first half, and defended well during the period considering Penrith’s dominance. An early try to Jordan Rapana was quickly cancelled out by Matt Moylan in the 12th minute, as the scores were at 6-4 to Penrith. The Panthers took off and had more opportunities to score again, but Canberra remained resilient in defence, and showed strength in a part of their game that has often come under fire recently. Both sides though struggled to hold onto the ball in the first half, and had discouraging completion rates. The Raiders were down to 12 men for the start of the second half, giving Penrith a slight edge in terms of their attacking numbers. Their third try of the match was scored in the 41st minute, just after half time, with great passing putting Nathan Cleary in to give Penrith an 8 point lead. Soon after Nick Cotric hit back, and reduced the deficit back to 2. Two quick tries in succession afterwards saw the Raiders take their first lead of the match, up by 8 points with 19 minutes left. A game that looked finished soon turned, and luckily for the Panthers, Matt Moylan stepped up at the right moment, setting up two late tries to steal a 24-20 win for the Mountain Men. Moylan’s hot form at five eight continues as his slick work earnt the Panthers another win. The Raiders on the other hand continue to look shaky and are still struggling to reach their full potential this year.
The Broncos came off two straight losses to both the Warriors and Rosters going into round 14, and needed a win at home against the struggling Rabbitohs to revive their early hot form of the season. The Rabbitohs were the better side in the early stages of the match, dominating possession and looking the more likely to score first. The Broncos remained composed and scored the first try in one of their first opportunities, through Corey Oates on their left edge. The Broncos scored again through Matt Gillett, and took a comfortable 12-0 lead after 20 minutes. The Rabbitohs continued to lurk, and through some good ball play scored with Bryson Goodwin catching a chip kick, and bringing the Bunnies to within 6 points. The second half came round with the Rabbitohs quieting the crowd, and evening the scores through Captain Sam Burgess. The game was tight through the middle, and both sides sought to gain an edge through their forwards. Brisbane hit back with Jordan Kahu, giving the Broncos a 16-12 advantage mid-way through the second half. The Rabbitohs continued to match the Broncos, and threw all they could manage at them. Anthony Milford fell awkwardly on his shoulder in the 72nd minute, scaring many Brisbane fans, and as a result will be sidelined for six weeks. This made Brisbane thin in terms of star players, but consistent play allowed the Broncos to score again with Sam Thaiday and kick a penalty goal, giving them a 24-18 victory. The Broncos are suspect in terms of tempo this season, but a bunch of experienced players along with Coach Bennett means they are able to pull out tough, hard-fought victories, which will come in handy in Canberra on Saturday night.
The Raiders right edge of Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana is in hot form so far, and the Broncos left edge are in need of a big game. Both Corey Oates and Tautau Moga have had glimpses of brilliance this season, but are yet to reach their full potential.
Rapana is the leading try scorer in the premiership in 2017, and has been the bulk of the Raiders attacking production so far. Unfortunately for Canberra they haven’t lived up to expectations and a win over Brisbane is a must to keep their top four hopes alive. That means their game breakers needing to step up and lead the team by example. Leilua is one of the most dangerous runners in the game, and hoping he has a full head of steam, Canberra’s attack should work well this weekend.
Moga has been labelled as the next Israel Folau for the Broncos, which is a pleasing sentence for fans. Nevertheless Moga had not hit his hot form until recently with some great ball running and line breaks to boost his stats. Corey Oates was able to be an impact player last season with Jack Reed and Darius Boyd consistently feeding him the ball, while it seems to be an inability to replicate that for Moga, as he runs the ball far more himself this year. For Brisbane, to match up well and isolate the Raiders attack, their left edge both defensively and offensively must produce and play their best footy of the season.
Both teams have the potential to contend for the premiership this year, and going into this, both should feel equally confident. Thanks to Origin 2, Brisbane will have more fresh legs than normal and can match Canberra pound-for-pound, but Canberra’s powerhouse attack may be too much for the Broncos to handle – A tight affair that will ultimately come down to the last 10 minutes. Raiders by 2
Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Junior Paulo 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Josh Papalii 12. Elliot Whitehead 13. Iosia Soliola 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Luke Bateman 16. Clay Priest 17. Joseph Tapine 18. Scott Sorensen 19. Royce Hunt 20. Dave Taylor 21. Lachlan Croker
Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Benji Marshall 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Korbin Sims 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Adam Blair 11. Sam Thaiday 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh Mcguire 14. Alex Glenn 15. Tevita Pangai 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Ben Hunt 18. Jai Arrow 19. Jaydn Su’a 20. Herman Essese 21. David Mead