NRL fans will be given an early snapshot of what finals football will look like in 2017 as the Brisbane Broncos and Parramatta Eels come into this game with great form and will meet each other at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.

Last Time Out

The Brisbane Broncos consolidated their second position on the NRL ladder last weekend against the St George Illawarra Dragons, and further proved why they’re a serious premiership contender in 2017. A man of the match performance from Anthony Milford and a terrific defensive structure enabled Wayne Bennett and his troops to secure their third win on the trot and a convincing 24-12 victory.

The Eels are still in the hunt for a top four spot come finals time, as they claimed an important 30-8 victory over the Gold Coast Titans. It wasn’t one of their best performances, but usually when a team wins in ugly fashion they end up finding themselves playing finals football. Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman have built such a well rounded combination and Will Smith was dynamic when he replaced Bevan French at fullback. The Eels have now won nine of their past eleven matches and are coming into this year’s finals in red hot form.

Line Up Changes

For the home side Jaydn Su’A will replace interchange forward Tevita Pangai Junior who has a hamstring injury. Winger Jordan Kahu has been ruled out with a groin injury and David Mead is set to take his spot on the wing.

For Parramatta Bevan French is out with a hamstring injury which he suffered at the start of the second half against the Titans. Will Smith who made two line breaks and scored two tries against the Titans will wear the number 1 jumper. Manu Ma’u is out due to suspension as Kenny Edwards will take his place in the starting line up.

Where are these teams at?

This match is important for one reason and one reason only. It’s to see where these two sides are at in terms of preparation, their style of football and organisation in defence. Both Parramatta and Brisbane will want to come away from this game unscathed. To make sure their teams are in full strength and there are no injury concerns to their big name players before heading into September football. Finals football is all about structure. Who has the best game plan and who can expose the minor weaknesses in the way their opposing team plays. Whoever has the most organised structure across areas of the game will come away with the two competition points.

Prediction

In what will be one of the matches of Round 25, both teams come into the clash evenly poised. The Broncos need to continue their winning ways in order to secure a home game in the first week of the semi finals. While Parramatta need victories against Brisbane and South Sydney in round 26 to have any chance of finishing in the top four. The Eels would want that second bite at the cherry, but are facing a very difficult opponent who have a strong record at home in 2017. In a low scoring and close affair the Broncos are certainly the favourites with their tough forward pack and being one of the most organised defensive sides in the competition.

The Broncos by 4

Brisbane Broncos vs Parramatta Eels, Thursday 24 August, 7:50PM at Suncorp Stadium

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. Interchange: 14. Sam Thaiday 15. Jaydn Su’A 16. Jai Arrow 17. Herman Ese’ese Reserves: 18. Benji Marshall 19. David Mead 20. Salesi Funaki 21. Tom Opacic

Eels: 1. Will Smith 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Kirisome Auva’a 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Cameron King 10. Tim Mannah 11. Kenny Edwards 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown. Interchange: 14. David Gower 15. Suaia Matagi 16. Frank Pritchard 17. Peni Terepo Reserves: 18. Siosaia Vave 19. Josh Hoffman 20. Beau Scott 21. Kaysa Pritchard