The Brisbane Broncos will host the Canberra Raiders on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Broncos currently sit in eighth place and are four competition points ahead of ninth place that just so happen to be their opponents this week. Brisbane survived a late fight back last round against the Cronulla Sharks to maintain their spot inside the top eight. They have not really played to their full potential as of yet, however the men from Brisbane will set themselves up a place inside the top eight should they defeat the Canberra Raiders.
The Raiders are currently in ninth place and building a whole lot of momentum heading towards the business end of the season. Canberra were simply brilliant in their 48-12 romping over the Wests Tigers and that was all buoyed by the return of star English hooker Josh Hodgson who starred with try assists. The Green Machine are on a roll and a win this week would put them within a win of the eight.
Brisbane has made just one change with Tom Opacic set to replace Sam Tagatese on the interchange bench. Tevita Pangai Jr is set to take his place despite leaving the field early against the Sharks. All their Origin stars are also expected to take their place.
Josh Hodgson has been named to start which means Siliva Havili has been demoted to the bench. Junior Paulo has recovered from his injury and will start from the bench replacing Luke Bateman who is out until at least round 20 through a knee injury. Sia Soliola will start at prop with Dunamis Lui being pushed back to the bench.
It doesn’t get any bigger than this with plenty at stake for both sides. It’s eighth against ninth and both sides can really get their playoff campaign kick started with a win. If Canberra lose then they will drift six points outside of the top eight and basically will be out of contention.
The Broncos have won the last five clashes between the two sides, however this clash has huge bearing on both respective sides seasons and don’t expect the Raiders to shy away from the contest.
This clash will come down to the halves and how they control proceedings. With Aidan Sezer fresh coming off putting pen to paper to stay put in the capital for another two seasons, expect him to put a big showing to prove he’s worth every penny. Canberra five-eight Blake Austin is still playing for a contract, whether it be for the Raiders or a different club, Austin also has plenty to prove. The halves for Brisbane this season has been their biggest downfall, with either Anthony Milford or Kodi Nikorima being able to really rubber-stamp games. Both Nikorima and Milford are live-wires and can easily split the game open, however this game will be on who can build pressure and create more opportunities for both sets of backlines to work off.
The Brisbane Broncos have won the last five clashes against the Canberra Raiders dating back to 2013.
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd (c), 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 4 Jordan Kahu, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Sam Thaiday, 11 Tevita Pangai jnr, 12 Jaydn Su’A, 13 Josh McGuire Interchange: 14 Patrick Mago, 15 Joe Ofahengaue, 16 Tom Opacic, 17 Alex Glenn Reserves: 18 Korbin Sims, 19 Troy Dargan, 20 Sam Tagataese, 21 David Fifita, 22 Kotoni Staggs, 23 Gehamat Shibasaki
Raiders: 1 Jack Wighton, 2 Nick Cotric, 3 Jarrod Croker (c), 4 Joseph Leilua, 5 Michael Oldfield, 6 Blake Austin, 7 Aidan Sezer, 8 Iosia Soliola, 9 Josh Hodgson, 10 Shannon Boyd, 11 Joseph Tapine, 12 Elliott Whitehead, 13 Josh Papalii Interchange: 14 Siliva Havili, 15 Junior Paulo, 16 Dunamis Lui, 17 Liam Knight Reserves: 18 Jack Burchie, 19 Charlie Gubb, 20 Craig Garvey, 21 Brad Abbey
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday 30th June
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
WHO WILL WIN?
Both sides have plenty to play for, Brisbane will look to consolidate their place inside the top eight, while Canberra will look to edge closer towards it. The Raiders were simply brilliant as soon as Josh Hodgson came on the park, look him to be the catalyst to kick-start their surge into September.
Raiders by 6