The Brisbane Broncos will travel to McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night for their clash against the Newcastle Knights. The Knights side will be devastated after their loss last weekend and will want to prove to their fans that they are improving as the season closes to an end, while the Broncos have the chance to move into the top 4 again.
LAST TIME OUT
The Knights in their last meeting were matched against a Bulldogs side looking to send off Josh Reynolds at Belmore with a convincing win. The Newcastle side was set back early by a quick shift from the scrum for Kerrod Holland to score in the corner. The home side then took a kick for another two points from a penalty to edge 8 nil with 7 minutes to go in the half. The Knights hit back on the stroke of halftime through Peter Mata’utia taking a quick tap 10 metres from the Bulldogs try line crashing over for much needed points. After the break the Knights leveled the score from an offside penalty making it 8 all 50 minutes in, a few sets later a brilliant cut out pass from Trent Hodkinson provided Chanel Mata’utia with a four-pointer. The last quarter of the game had Knights five-eighth Hodkinson put through a well weighted grubber kick to give Peter Mata’utia his second converted try of the night and lead 18-8. The Bulldogs with only 5 minutes left in the game spread the ball out to the wing of Marcelo Montoya who sprinted along the sideline past the cover defence to score in the corner which was then converted by Holland producing a 18-14 score line. The Newcastle side trying to hang on in the dying stages of the game went to halfback Brock Lamb to place a kick out of play but was blocked by Moses Mbye, he then regathered and bolted 60metres for a converted try and put the game to bed. A block by Reynolds on a Newcastle player from a short dropout on full-time gave the Knights a last attempt at a penalty goal which Lamb then shanked left of the posts and thus ending the game 20-18.
The Broncos had their last bye previous to the round however they hosted the Melbourne Storm who put a clinical 42-12 score line on the Brisbane side. The Storm got away to a 14 nil lead within the opening quarter of the match punishing the Broncos side on the edges with tries to wingers Suliasi Vunivalu, Josh Ado-Carr and the third try to centre Curtis Scott. Battered through the middle and losing their lock Josh McGuire to a concussion for the night the Brisbane side was looking for a reply, Broncos halfback Ben Hunt answered with a last tackle barging run over Storm fullback Billy Slater to get the home side on the board 14-6. Moments after a clever kick from five-eighth Cameron Munster auditioning for a origin position put a cross field bomb which found Vunivalu above the Broncos defenders for his second of the night and finished with 2 line breaks, 2 tackle busts with 16 runs for 170 metres. The Brisbane side however was able to score first after the break through winger David Mead scoring in the corner, but the night continued the same with the home team only completing 57 percent of their sets and also letting through Scott and Ado-Carr for their second tries of the evening. Precision plays from the origin spine in Slater, Munster, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk flexing their skills for the Melbourne club and leaving with an impressive 30-point victory.
The battle of the halfbacks come Saturday night will be the key factor of which side comes away with the win. Both halves only just coming back into their respective sides recently and while only having played 18 games this season collectively Trent Hodkinson and Ben Hunt will be looking to take control of the game from the outset. These sides have not played since round 7 last season which was an absolute thrashing by the Broncos 53 nil with Hunt coming out the better of the two with a try, 3 try assists, 2 line breaks and 22 tackles. With no Anthony Milford and Darius Boyd out with injuries Hunt will need to replicate those numbers in Newcastle backing up from playing origin. Their head-to-head minutes played are similar but Hunt having more run metres and 20 more tackle busts than Hodkinson will want to utilize his running to the line to continue those statistics against his opposition.
Hodkinson was instrumental against his former club the Bulldogs last round, even though having only just lost in the final minutes of the game the Knights half finished with 2 try assists, 3 goals and 27 tackles and against a Broncos side hungry for another top 4 placing he will need to be near perfect. His options from set plays as well as using his outside backs in Nathan Ross and Dane Gagai who have been the Knights best leading up to this clash will be crucial if they are to win.
An ever improving Knights team as the weeks progress will show resilience in the opening stages of the match perhaps even leading at the break if their combinations stick. The Broncos will have much more to play for, players backing up from origin will be tough but they will still be too strong for a young Newcastle side at home. Showing more experience and expertise throughout the match, Brisbane will win convincingly and put on plenty of points late in the match.
Broncos by 14
Newcastle Knights v Brisbane Broncos, Saturday 15th July, 5:30pm at McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle Knights: 1. Nathan Ross 2. Chanel Mata’utia 3. Dane Gagai 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Brendan Elliott 6. Brock Lamb 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Danny Levi 10. Josh King 11. Sione Mata’utia 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Mitchell Barnett 14. Jamie Buhrer 15. Luke Yates 16. Joe Wardle 17. Jacob Saifiti 18. Sam Stone 19. Jacob Gagan 20. Tyler Randell 21. Mickey Paea
Brisbane Broncos: 1. Jordan Kahu 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. Jonus Pearson 6. Benji Marshall 7. Ben Hunt 8. Korbin Sims 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Adam Blair 11. Sam Thaiday 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh McGuire 14. Alex Glenn 15. Tevita Pangai Junior 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Kodi Nikorima 18. Salesi Funaki 19. Jai Arrow 20. Jaydn Su’A 21. Anthony Milford 22. Marion Seve