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2021 NRL Round Three Preview, Broncos Vs Bulldogs

Matt Attard previews the Broncos vs Bulldogs Saturday night clash. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Date: Saturday, March 27, Time: 5:30pm AEDT

Broncos

  1. Jamayne Isaako
  2. Xavier Coates
  3. Herbie Farnworth
  4. Tesi Niu
  5. David Mead
  6. Anthony Milford
  7. Brodie Croft
  8. Tevita Pangai Junior
  9. Jake Turpin
  10. Thomas Flegler
  11. Alex Glenn
  12. Jordan Riki
  13. Patrick Carrigan
  14. John Asiata
  15. Rhys Kennedy
  16. Ethan Bullemor
  17. Ben Te’o
  18. Tom Dearden
  19. Richard Kennar
  20. Cory Paix
  21. Corey Oates

Team Changes

IN: Corey Oates, Cory Paix, Richard Kennar, Tom Dearden.
OUT: n/a

Bulldogs

  1. Corey Allan
  2. Nick Meaney
  3. Will Hopoate
  4. Nick Cotric
  5. Tuipulotu Katoa
  6. Jake Averillo
  7. Kyle Flanagan
  8. Ofahiki Ogden
  9. Jeremy Marshall-King
  10. Jack Hetherington
  11. Adam Elliott
  12. Corey Waddell
  13. Josh Jackson
  14. Sione Katoa
  15. Renouf Atoni
  16. Joe Stimson
  17. Dylan Napa
  18. Dean Britt
  19. Chris Smith
  20. Lachlan Lewis
  21. Ava Seumanufaga

Team Changes

IN: Ava Seumanufagai, Chris Smith, Dean Britt, Joe Stimson, Lachlan Lewis, Tuipulotu Katoa
OUT: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Raymond Faitala-Mariner.

Referee: <referee>

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Broncos

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While they have a new coach in Kevin Walters, the same old roster has hampered the Broncos. Granted, Walters has inherited a big mess, and it sure shows with their opening performances riddled with inconsistency and frustration.
They are desperate but have made no changes to the side that was beaten by the Gold Coast Titans last week, which shows Walters is willing to give his side time to gel.

Bulldogs

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The Bulldogs are in a very similar position to their opponents, except they have a decent roster on paper but have yet to gel. Their errors and missed tackles have killed off any chance of a win in their opening two matches, much like the Broncos.

Origin fullback Corey Allan has failed to involve himself enough, nor has Nick Cotric, who looks to be a great pick up – if only he saw more ball. It’s hard to be too critical with the side coming out of their own end much of last week and rarely getting a chance inside Penrith’s half – a testament to how good the Panthers were.

Raymond Faitala-Mariner will be out for most of the season with a foot fracture while winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is suspended for two games.

PREVIEW

Both sides will fancy their chances here. The Broncos have the advantage of playing at home and, to be fair, were very good in the opening half of round one against the Parramatta Eels. They also looked good in patches against the Titans. The same can be said for the Bulldogs in each of their two games this season, even holding the Panthers to four points for much of the first half.

What both coaches will want to see here is a huge improvement in defence. The Bulldogs were riddled with errors in round one but fixed that in round two, completing at 84 per cent but confined to their own half for most of the game. The Panthers had a 59 per cent share of the ball. They did, however, miss 42 tackles.

The Broncos completed at just 65 per cent against the Titans and made 17 errors. No team can win with those sort of numbers.

What’s most frustrating for each of these clubs is their ability on paper. The Bulldogs have an excuse, with many new faces taking time to gel. They are yet to receive a fair share of the ball (all from their own doing) and have been forced to defend for much of their two games so far.

Brisbane have a side sprinkled with representative talent and very promising young guns, but seem to lack direction and leadership.

This game will come down to who can hold the pill and whether or not the Bulldogs can fix their patchy defense.

KEY STAT

The two sides have gone tit-for-tat since 2018: Broncos, Bulldogs, Broncos, Bulldogs, Broncos… Bulldogs? History shows the Broncos normally rack up a decent score, their last clash ending in a 26-8 demolition at Suncorp Stadium.

Last week, the Broncos had the lion’s share of possession against the Titans but failed to muster much of an attack. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, have been on the wrong end of possession and territory for two weeks. It would be interesting to see what they’d come up with if they had the fair share of the ball – something that can only happen if they fix their defence and handling.

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PREDICTION

Playing at home and having an uninterrupted week will do the Broncos the world of good. There’s a lot of outside noise but Walters is a great coach: he’ll have his side singing before too long. I truly believe the same can be said about the Bulldogs, but I can’t see it coming this week.

Broncos by one.

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