Lachy MacCorquodale previews the round 15 clash between the Brisbane Broncos and the St George Illawarra Dragons. This is what we have to look forward to.
The Brisbane Broncos suffered a heavy 28-point loss to last years’ grand finalists the Canberra Raiders. After leading by two points at the halftime break, the Broncos self-imploded, conceding five tries in the first 25 minutes of the second period to continue their season from hell. The 15th-placed side from Queensland are the only team to have conceded 400 points this season and have scored the least amount of points in the competition. Payne Haas has been suspended for two weeks, which will only ensure that the Broncos’ horror run continues.
St George Illawarra Dragons
Paul McGregor’s last game as coach saw the Dragons overcome the third-placed Parramatta Eels by two points in a close Friday night clash. It was a great way to send Mary out, with interim coach Dean Young making his debut as a NRL coach this Friday night: he represented the ‘Red V’ on 209 occasions from 2003 to 2012. The Dragons have improved on their poor start to the season, having won five of their past 10 matches to date, which places them in 11th on the competition ladder. They’ll be expecting to come away with the two points this weekend, giving Young the perfect start to his coaching career.
1. Darius Boyd 2. Richard Kennar 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Jordan Kahu 5. Herbie Farnworth 6. Anthony Milford 7. Tom Dearden 8. Joe Ofahengaue 9. Isaac Luke 10. Rhys Kennedy 11. David Fifita 12. Ben Te’o 13. Patrick Carrigan. 14. Cory Paix 15. Jordan Riki 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Jamil Hopoate 18. Pride Petterson-Robati 19. Jesse Arthars 20. Sean O’Sullivan 21. Brodie Croft.
The Broncos have plenty of changes this week with a combination of injuries, a suspension, and players getting dropped from the side. Payne Haas (suspension) and Thomas Flegler (injury) will be replaced in the front row by Joe Ofahengaue and Rhys Kennedy, with Ethan Bullemor and Jamil Hopoate coming onto the bench. Anthony Milford returns from injury in place for the out-of-form Brodie Croft, Jordan Kahu starts at centre, replacing Jesse Arthars in the backline, with Herbie Farnworth moving to the wing. The final change sees Isaac Luke starting at hooker for the injured Jake Turpin.
St George Illawarra Dragons
1. Matthew Dufty 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Euan Aitken 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Adam Clune 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Ben Hunt 10. Josh Kerr 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tyrell Fuimaono 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Jacob Host 15. Kaide Ellis 16. Korbin Sims 17. Paul Vaughan 18. Trent Merrin 19. Tristan Sailor 20. Brayden Wiliame 21. Eddie Blacker
Tyrell Fuimaono is named, but was suspended by the judiciary on Tuesday night. Jacob Host could move to the back row, with Trent Merrin joining the bench. Paul Vaughan returns after his quarantine period ends, taking Tristan Sailor’s spot on the bench.
Brisbane have the wood over the Dragons, with 23 wins in their 40 matches dating back to St George Ilawarra’s first season in 1999. This includes a streak of 13 wins from 14 games over the course of eight seasons: from 2010 through to the end of the 2017 season. However, the Dragons have won the past three matches against the Broncos, which included a one-point victory in round three last season.
BATTLE TO WATCH
The battle of the locks
With a depleted Broncos forward pack, captain Patrick Carrigan will need carry a serious amount of the load left by the absence of Payne Haas and Thomas Flegler. Carrigan has become a permanent fixture in the forward pack this season, having locked down the lock position. The 22-year-old averages 64 minutes per game and gets through a truckload of work. Carrigan averages 147 run metres per game and makes an extraordinary 45 tackles per game. It’s a long shot, but the Brisbane local could be a smokey for the Queensland Origin side selected at the end of the season.
Carrigan’s opposite number, Cameron McInnes, is a hooker by trade but has found a spot a lock recently, with Ben Hunt moving into the number nine jersey. One of St George Illawarra’s most reliable players, McInnes has averaged a career-high 114 run metres this season whilst making a league-high 57 tackles per game, a massive five more on average than the next best, Api Koroisau. McInnes accumulated 172 run metres against the Parramatta Eels on Friday night, combined with a mammoth 58 tackles, showing the production that the Dragons’ captain can get through on a weekly basis.
Dragons by 18.
Date: Friday, August 21.
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.
Kick-off: Friday 7:55pm.