The Brisbane Broncos will host the Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night at 7:55 AEDT. The Broncos come off an impressive win in New Zealand against the Warriors and sit 8th on the ladder, while the Storm bounced back from a loss to the Tigers to beat the Knights, and currently sit 5th
TEAM FORM GUIDE
After successive losses to the Titans at home and the Knights on the road, the Broncos had to travel to New Zealand to take on the Warriors, who were looking to remain perfect to start the season. Unlike their form this season, Brisbane were strong with the ball in hand, completing 100 percent of their sets and only committing one handling errors in the first half. A slim 15-14 half time lead, they looked the far better side. The Warriors were flat for the majority of the game, in their line speed in particular which has been a strength of theirs in 2018. Two second half tries cemented the result for Brisbane, as they ran away with a much needed 27-18 win.
The Knights, coming off a win over the Broncos travelled to Melbourne to take on the Storm, who suffered a close defeat to the Tigers in New Zealand. Melbourne was on fire in the opening 15 minutes with three tries, while continuous mistakes from a young Knights side prevented any chance they had of making a comeback. A Lachlan Fitzgibbon yellow card helped the Storm score in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and two more tries to the home side saw them win 40-14. The performance was very pleasing from many stand points for the Storm, with great discipline in errors and penalty counts, as well as high percentages in possession and completion rate.
Tevita Pangai Jr. will start at prop, replacing Sam Thaiday who has been dropped to the bench. Kodi Nikorima returns to the bench as a utility, with Jack Brid retaining his sport in the halves. Sam Tagataese has thus been dropped to the reserves.
Will Chambers returns from suspension, and replaces Young Tonumaipea at centre. Other than that, the Storm remains unchanged from last week.
The Broncos have had an odd 2018 so far, with great results against the Cowboys, Tigers and Warriors, but have failed to remain consistent highlighted by a terrible performance against the Titans back in round four. The halves look to be settled on for the remainder of the season, and bringing Kodi Nikorima off the bench as a utility is a great move for Brisbane.
The Storm have also had their ups and downs. A great first up win over the Bulldogs could not be followed up against the Tigers in round two. Since they had dropped two and won two, but as the weeks go their halves should also find their groove.
The last time these two teams met was in the Preliminary Finals in 2017, with the Storm winning impressively 30-0 at AAMI Park, en route to a Grad Final showdown with the Cowboys.
The similar characteristics of Billy Slater and Darius Boyd, being as much a playmaker as a strong ball runner and reliable defender, have made them two of the game’s best fullbacks and make for an exciting matchup.
Boyd’s form has been questionable in 2018 so far, but his performance against the Warriors reassured why he is an important piece to Wayne Bennett’s side is. Boyd has great under the high all and great at including himself in the backline on attacking plays.
Slater has had one of the best comebacks stories of recent history in the NRL, with a Dally M Fullback of the year honours last year and a Clive Churchill medal in the Grand Final. His form has continued over into 2018, playing a pivotal role against Newcastle in particular last week.
Brisbane forward Josh McGuire was adamant his side must turn up against the Storm, adding “this is a game that you need to make sure you perform”.
Coach Craig Bellamy praised Brisbane’s performance against the Warriors last week, and said that his side just needs to concentrate on their own game.
The Broncos have not won at home against the Storm since round two of 2009, losing the last seven games at Suncorp Stadium. Melbourne have scored 90 points and only conceded 18 in their past two matchups with the Broncos in Brisbane.
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd (c), 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 4 Tom Opacic, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Jack Bird, 7 Anthony Milford, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Tevita Pangai Jr., 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Korbin Sims, 13 Josh McGuire Interchange: 14 Sam Thaiday, 15 Joe Ofahengaue, 16 Kodi Nikorima, 17 Jaydn Su’a Reserves: 18 Jonus Pearson, 19 Troy Dargan, 20 Sam Tagataese, 21 Payne Haas
Storm: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Ryley Jacks, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Tim Glasby Interchange: 14 Brandon Smith, 15 Kenny Bromwich, 16 Christian Welch, 17 Sam Kasiano Reserves: 18 Young Tonumaipea, 19 Joe Stimson, 20 Patrick Kaufusi, 21 Brodie Croft
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 20th April 2018
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kickoff: 7:55 pm AEDT
Match Officials: Ashley Klein, Gavin Badger (assistant)
WHO WILL WIN?
Questions marks around Melbourne’s halves may have temporarily been answered, as Ryley jacks had a great game last week. No Matt Gillett will continue to hurt Brisbane this year defensively, so like last week the likes of Pangai Jr., Su’A and Sims will have to step up. It will be far closer than the last two games at Suncorp between these two, but likely the same result. Storm by 4.