The Brisbane Broncos take on the Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night to kick off round five of the NRL season.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Broncos have lost two games on the trot, both in very different ways. In round three, they went down 25-24 to the Dragons and a Corey Norman field goal right on fulltime. Last week they were totally embarrassed by the Roosters 36-4, a loss coach Anthony Seibold would like to put in the rearview mirror as quickly as possible.
After starting the season with two wins, the Tigers have also lost two games straight. They were outplayed by a much improved Bulldogs team 22-8 in round three, and last week they fell victim to a Nathan Cleary clutch kicking masterclass, going down 9-8 in golden point to the Panthers.
Tevita Pangai Jr has been suspended two games for his late shot on Cooper Cronk last week. Taking his place in the starting side at lock will be David Fifita. Young gun Patrick Carrigan has been named to make his NRL debut on the bench, while Payne Haas is available after serving out his suspension, but has been named in the reserves.
The Broncos have only won one game in the first month of footy, and will be hoping a return to Suncorp Stadium will bring them a return to the winner’s circle and closer to the top eight.
Broncos squad: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Jack Bird 5. Jamayne Isaako 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Joe Ofahengaue 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. David Fifita. Interchange: 14. Gehamat Shibasaki 15. Jaydn Su’A 16. Thomas Flegler 17. Patrick Carrigan. Reserves: 18. Payne Haas 19. Shaun Fensom 20. James Roberts 21. Richard Kennar
Michael Maguire has surprisingly dropped Elijah Taylor out of the 17, with Josh Aloiai coming into the starting side at lock. Impressive young forward Thomas Mikaele returns to the bench in his place. Russell Packer moves to starting prop with Ben Matulino dropping back to the bench.
Despite dropped their last two games, the Tigers sit in 6th position on the ladder with a respectable for-and-against keeping them in the top eight for now. They will be looking for a big win on the road to keep their position secure.
Tigers squad: 1. Moses Mbye 2. Mahe Fonua 3. Robert Jennings 4. Esan Marsters 5. Corey Thompson 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Luke Brooks 8. Russell Packer 9. Robbie Farah 10. Alex Twal 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Luke Garner 13. Josh Aloiai. Interchange: 14. Ben Matulino 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Matthew Eisenhuth 17. Michael Chee-Kam. Reserves: 18. Paul Momirovski 19. Elijah Taylor 20. David Nofoaluma 21. Chris McQueen.
HEAD TO HEAD
The last time these two teams met was back in round three last season, where the Broncos were able to come away with a 9-7 win, thanks to a controversial Jamayne Isaako penalty goal in golden point. The last time they met at Suncorp Stadium it was a complete different story, as the Broncos were able to smash the Tigers 36-0 when they played at the venue in 2017. The Broncos also hold a big lead in head to head wins, having won 21 out of 27 total meetings between the sides.
Anthony Milford vs Josh Reynolds. Both these teams have impressive young forward packs at their disposable, which could lead to a lot of metres being made. However the play of these two halves will be of vital importance to how many points are scored on the end of those metres. Both players bring a real x-factor to their respective teams when they are in good form, and both have shown glimpses of playmaking gold this year.
Reynolds made a successful return to the top-grade last weekend in place of Benji Marshall and looked as though he hadn’t missed a game, setting up both of the Tigers tries with some pin-point kicks in a losing effort. Milford on the other hand has been good without being great so far this year. The Broncos will be without two of their more potent attacking weapons in James Roberts and Tevita Pangai Jr for this clash, so they will be looking to Milford to provide some much-needed flair and execution in attack.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday 11th of April
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
WHO WILL WIN?
This should be a pretty physical encounter, with both sides packing plenty of firepower in their forwards and some real finishers in their outside backs. Both also come into the game needing a win to get the seasons back on track. The Broncos are usually a much better team when playing at Suncorp Stadium, but defense will be the key to a win for both sides. On recent form, the Tigers have the edge in that department. Tigers by 4.