The Brisbane Broncos host the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane this Thursday night. The Broncos enter the clash 10th on the table, but come off a pleasing win against the Rabbitohs in Sydney, while he Bulldogs sit 15th with only two wins in six games so far.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Broncos have struggled with consistent results, so a win away to the Rabbitohs could have been a springboard for the coming weeks. Early tries to Cody Walker off a Jack Bird mistake, and Darius Boyd through great attacking play saw the scores at 6-6 after 15 minutes. Brisbane committed eight errors in the opening 40 which hindered their chance of taking the lead at any stage. Another try to South Sydney put them up 12-6 at the break, and looking the better side. In the second half Brisbane came out with far more energy, putting the home side on the back foot early. 76 percent possession went the way of the Broncos through the opening 10 minutes of, and the momentum created lasted them the remainder of the game. Three tries to one to finish the game was enough for the visitors to claim a well-deserved 24-20 win, supported by a great performance from Corey Oates.
One of the Dogs two wins in 2018 came against the Panthers in round three, so confidence in grabbing a third win was high. The Dogs started off the better side, scoring the first try of the game through Marcelo Montoya on the right edge. Dylan Edwards was carried off with a shoulder injury, and the alterations to the Penrith defence did not go to plan and Will Hopoate was able to cross over to give the visitors a 12-2 lead after 25 minutes. However the Panthers were able to shift momentum, slightly, with a try just before half time to trim the lead to four points. The second half saw the Dogs struggle to string together good attacking sets, and strong defence from the Panthers allowed them to run in two tries and build up a six point lead. A penalty goal to Maloney put the game beyond doubt in the 72nd minute, as Penrith showed off a resilient second half effort without one of their key men.
Andrew McCullough makes a surprise return to start at hooker, with Josh McGuire sidelined with an ankle injury. Todd Murphy has been promoted to the reserves.
Greg Eastwood has been dropped, with Clay Priest moving onto the bench for what will be is first appearance for his new club.
Consistency has never been much of a problem for Wayne Bennett sides in the past, but in 2018 it is more apparent than ever. The Broncos have had great performances against the Warriors and Rabbitohs, but struggled against the Titans and Dragons so will have to dig deep for an important win.
The Bulldogs in 2018 seem to be the same side as the last few years, regardless of the additions of Aaron Woods and Kieran Foran. The spine still has a lack of class to steer the backline, so 2018 will continue to go south for the Dogs if the likes of Foran and Lichaa are unable to strike some great form.
The last time these two teams faced was in round 20 of 2017, where at Suncorp Stadium the Broncos won comfortably 42-12
The Bulldogs have always been strong in the forwards, and with arguably the best performance from a Brisbane forward pack in recent memory last week, the key to win for both teams looks to be in the middle of the park.
The second half of last week saw Brisbane’s forwards flip the script, as they powered through the Bunnies in the midfield. Tevita Pangai Jr. has been their best so far in 2018 and the young Payne Haas made a pleasing debut, which gives some foreshadowing to Brisbane’s front row of the future. The Bulldogs on the other hand have lost some talent in their forwards, as well as Woods, Klemmer and Jackson yet to show off their class. It seems the duty may fall on the likes of Adam Elliot or Clay Priest to fire up the pack this week, which seems a big responsibility for two inexperienced men.
Brisbane Second rower Alex Glenn said that he wants his side to keep the momentum going this week against the Bulldogs at home. Star half Anthony Milford praised the debut of Payne Haas, adding he has a lot more to show off.
Bulldogs Captain Josh Jackson admitted that the form of his forwards has not been the best this year, and their goal week in and week out is to play hard and get the two points. Jackson added that second half scoring is a big focus at the moment.
Although the Broncos have won 29 games compared to 22 for the Bulldogs in this tie, the Bulldogs have been strong away from home with eight from 15 games at Suncorp Stadium, the most recent in round 22 of 2015.
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd (c), 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 4 Tom Opacic, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Jack Bird, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Sam Thaiday, 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Jaydn Su’A, 13 Tevita Pangai Jr. Interchange: 14 Payne Haas, 15 Joe Ofahengaue, 16 Kodi Nikorima, 17 Korbin Sims Reserves: 18 Jonus Pearson, 19 Todd Murphy, 20 Sam Tagataese, 21 Patrick Mogo
Bulldogs: 1 Moses Mbye, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Will Hopoate, 5 Marcelo Montoya, 6 Jeremy Marshall-King, 7 Kieran Foran, 8 Aaron Woods, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 David Klemmer, 11 Josh Jackson (c), 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 13 Adam Elliott Interchange: 14 Clay Priest, 15 Danny Fualalo, 16 Asipeli Fine, 17 Kerrod Holland Reserves: 18 John Olive, 19 Rhyse Martin, 20 Renouf Toomaga, 21 Matthew Frawley
Date: Thursday 3rd of May 2018
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kickoff: 7:50 pm (AEDT)
Match Officials: Gerard Sutton, Chris Sutton (assistant)
WHO WILL WIN?
It’s a huge task for the Bulldogs to go on the road and grab a win against a team who are simply better than them at this stage. The Broncos will be feeling good with the return of Andrew McCullough, and off a pleasing performance from the forwards last week; the battle in the middle should interesting. There is more class in Brisbane’s halves, and the Bulldogs’ struggles to score points are too real to turnaround so quickly. Broncos by 8.