Lachy MacCorquodale previews the round seven clash between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium. This is what we have to look forward to.
It’s been a tough month since the restart of the competition for the Brisbane Broncos, losing all four of their matches. They have struggled to string together a single 80 minute performance and have conceded a whopping 140 points, whilst only scoring a measly 30. In their defence, the Broncos have played four of the better sides in the competition, but they’ve been a shadow of the side that won their opening two matches of the season. This is a big match for both Anthony Milford and Brodie Croft who have been poor over the past month; if they fail to secure the two points for their side this weekend, you can expect the axe to fall. As a result of their performances this month, they’re currently sitting in 14th position, although they’re still a win ahead of the Gold Coast Titans.
Gold Coast Titans
The Gold Coast Titans are surprisingly in better form than their opposition over the past four weeks. They won their first game in 364 days with a late round four victory over the Wests Tigers. This victory arguably featured Ash Taylor’s best performance of the season and it’s time that he lived up to the expectations that have been put upon him since his debut season. Besides this sole win for the Titans, they have looked pretty scrappy in their other three matches since the restart of the competition. Losses to the Dragons, Rabbitohs and Cowboys have kept them firmly at the bottom of the ladder. The Titans have won only two of their previous 19 matches.
1. Tesi Niu 2. Corey Oates 3. Herbie Farnworth 4. Darius Boyd 5. Xavier Coates 6. Anthony Milford 7. Brodie Croft 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Isaac Luke 10. Payne Haas 11. Alex Glenn 12. Tevita Pangai Junior 13. Joe Ofahengaue 14. Jamayne Isaako 15. Jamil Hopoate 16. Rhys Kennedy 17. Ben Te’o 18. Tom Dearden 19. Ethan Bullemor 20. Tyson Gamble 21. Richard Kennar.
Tesi Niu has been moved from the bench into the starting fullback role, which sends Jamayne Isaako to the bench. Their forward pack required some changes due to an injury to Cory Paix in addition to Patrick Carrigan and Thomas Flegler facing suspensions. This has allowed Joseph Ofahengaue to move to the lock position whilst Jamil Hopoate and Rhys Kennedy join the bench.
Gold Coast Titans
1. Corey Thompson 2. Anthony Don 3. Brian Kelly 4. Dale Copley 5. Phillip Sami 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Mitch Rein 10. Sam Lisone 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Keegan Hipgrave 13. Jai Arrow 14. Tanah Boyd 15. Tyrone Peachey 16. Jaimin Jolliffe 17. Jarrod Wallace 18. Bryce Cartwright 19. Erin Clark 20. Beau Fermor 21. Tyrone Roberts.
Dale Copley starts at centre in a straight swap for the injured Young Tonumaipea, whilst Mitch Rein starts at hooker with Erin Clark dropping out of the side. Sam Lisone moves back into the starting side at prop as Jaimin Jolliffe returns to the bench and will be joined by a returning Jarrod Wallace, who moves into the 17 at the expense of Bryce Cartwright, as Keegan Hipgrave moves into the starting side in the back row. Tyrone Roberts has been included in the extended bench and could be a late inclusion.
The last four matches between these two sides have seen a split in the results, with both teams winning on two occasions. However, the Broncos have won nine of their previous 11 matches against the Titans, dating back to their second clash in 2014. Overall, the Titans have struggled against the Broncos since their introduction to the league in 2007, having won only seven of the 28 matches between the two South-East Queensland clubs.
BATTLE TO WATCH
The battle of the forward packs
The strength of both clubs seems to lie within their respective forward packs. This includes an absolute mouth-watering battle between the two best young props in the game: Moeaki Fotuaika and Payne Haas. Both players have been lone shining lights in their clubs’ seasons and they’ll provide the key to their success by laying down a good platform for the spine and backs to play from. Fotuaika is averaging 169 metres, 68 post-contact metres and 37 tackles in 58 minutes per game. His counterpart Payne Haas is averaging 163 metres, 73 post-contact metres and 43 tackles in 74 minutes per game. Just looking at these stats should make you drool. It’s going to be a great battle.
Normally you would agree with the statement that the Broncos have the better forward pack, but without David Fifita, Patrick Carrigan and Thomas Flegler it makes for a much more interesting battle. This is the perfect opportunity for the Titans forward pack, which features representative players in Jai Arrow and Kevin Proctor, to give it to the inexperienced Broncos forward pack.
Prediction: At full-strength it’d be safe to say that the Broncos would win this match convincingly, but they have been poor since the restart of the competition. The Titans’ form hasn’t been particularly flash either, so it almost comes down to who will want it more. The Broncos are desperate for a win: it’s also their first match since round one that is against a bottom eight side, and as a result I think they will grab the two points in this clash.
Brisbane by 14 points.
Date: Saturday, 27th June.
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.