The Broncos will continue their run of games at home, as they take on the Dragons at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night. The Broncos enter the clash with two straight, convincing victories over the Titans and Sharks, and will continue to push for a top two spot on the ladder. The Dragons revived hopes of a finals spot with a thumping win over the Titans, and will need to be at their best to see the season out.

Last Time Out:

The Broncos hosted the Sharks in an important game that would have serious ramifications on the top four. The Sharks were coming off a tough loss at home to the Raiders, and needed to bounce back. The Broncos received early pressure from the Sharks, as a great first set on the attack and defensively won Cronulla the battle of field position early on. Though working their way up the field, the Broncos cashed in first as Matt Gillett broke tackles and ran for the right corner. From there the Broncos controlled most of possession, and created plenty of chances for themselves. The Sharks on the other hand struggled to keep control of the ball, and only had 68 percent of their sets completed in the first half. A penalty goal and a great solo try to Captain Darius Boyd gave the Broncos a handy 14-0 advantage minutes out from the break. The Sharks, completely against the flow of the game, managed to score right on half time through Luke Lewis to pull the deficit back to eight points. The idea of momentum swinging to Cronulla was possible, as the dominance and hard work put in by the Broncos only had a slim margin to show for. Nevertheless the second half stuck to the script, as Brisbane score early though Tautau Moga in the left corner, extending their lead to 20-6. Tries followed from Moga again, and Corey Oates to extended Brisbane’s lead to 30-6 with 16 minutes on the clock, as the home side continued to take care of the ball. The Sharks scored a consolation try in the 72nd minute, but the damage was done and Brisbane ran out 32-10 winners. The Sharks cost themselves a chance to win the game, failing to keep the ball in hand long enough. Brisbane was able to utilise their chances, and proved why they are a serious threat in the competition. The win keeps Brisbane firmly on the top four, while the Sharks only hang on to fourth spot on points difference.

The Dragons returned to home to Jubilee Oval after dropping two straight easy games. A match-up with the Titans would prove to be another important clash, for a side who has continued to slide down the ladder at the backend of the season. Coming off their drubbing against the Broncos, the Titans did not look much different as the early signs pointed towards a Dragons’ victory. More possession and arguably more star players on their team allowed the Dragons to maintain pressure, regardless of the Titans efforts to escape. Kurt Mann and Jason Nightingale both scored after 20 minutes, as the Dragons had a 10-0 lead. Euan Aiken continued to be the go to man for the Red V, as he linked up with Gareth Widdop to send Joel Thompson over. In the 37th minute the Dragons finished the half on a high with Nightingale getting a double, and extending his side’s lead to 22-0 at the break. The Dragons looked composed with the ball, and by that chances came their way. A brilliant team effort saw Cameron McInnes score, and along with a few more hits to the injury list for the Titans the game was running away from them. Luckily Dale Copley scored the Titans fist try in roughly 150 minutes, and with Anthony Don scoring an acrobatic try in the 56th minute, the Titans began to claw their way back. The penalty and error counts were out of favour though for the Gold Coast, and possession sat squarely with the Dragons for the entire contest. Each side traded blows, and Euan Aitken had the final say as the Dragons comfortably ran away with the game 42-16. The match saw the Titans struggle to maintain control of the game, and the class of the Dragons outfit at home was too much for the Titans to handle.

Key Battle:

With his terrific performance against the Titans, Joel Thompson reminded us how great the Dragons’ second row is along with Tyson Frizell and Jack De Belin. Brisbane’s trio of Matt Gillett, Alex Glenn and Josh McGuire feature a ton of experience and strong form at the back end of the season, setting up a juicy tug of war in the middle for this Friday.

Joel Thompson was a recruit from Canberra in 2014 and was a solid performer for an up and coming Dragons side. An underrated forward pack added Tariq Sims half way through last season, and by adding Paul Vaughan in the off season the team managed to live up to their potential. Being an Origin forward, Frizell features a vast skill set with great ball running and athletic footwork, and Jack De Belin’s rise in form in 2017 has solidified his claim to be the best young lock in the competition.

Matt Gillett has arguably been the best second rower in the game for a second straight year. His defensive work is tremendous, and his right edge ball running along with James Roberts and Jordan Kahu has been top class in 2017. McGuire’s move to the lock position has seen him exhibit the same form that makes him a Queensland starter, and Alex Glenn played some of his best football in a long time during Brisbane’s Origin period, and now is continuing that work. Both sets of forwards will have a lot to play for, so expect a lot of athletic attacking football, as well as intense defensive pressure.

Prediction:

Although my allegiance sides with the Broncos, I am still not 100 percent convinced by their claim to the title in 2017. Brisbane have slipped up on occasions, and peaking to early can be a big issue with the finals coming up. Nevertheless the difference in quality of the sides will mean Bennett’s men can get the job done no worry. The Dragons have so much to play for, but going up to Brisbane is too hard a task to conquer. Broncos by 12

 

Squads:

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Korbin Sims 9. Ben Hunt 10. Adam Blair 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh Mcguire 14. Sam Thaiday 15. Tevita Pangai 16. Jai Arrow 17. Herman Essese 18. Benji Marshall 19. David Mead 20. Jaydn Su’a 21. Tom Opacic

Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Josh Dugan 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Kurt Mann 8. Leeson Ah Mau 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin 14. Tariq Sims 15. Hame Sele 16. Blake Lawrie 17. Taane Milne 18. Josh McCrone 19. Will Matthews 20. Luciano Leilua 21. Euan Aitken