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2021 NRL Round 18 Preview, Broncos Vs Tigers

Andrew Pelechaty previews Brisbane’s Sunday afternoon clash against the Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Date: Sunday July 18, Time: 4:05pm

Broncos Team

1. Tesi Niu
2. Corey Oates
3. Kotoni Staggs
4. Herbie Farnworth
5. Xavier Coates
6. Tyson Gamble
7. Brodie Croft
8. Rhys Kennedy
9. Jake Turpin
10. Payne Haas
11. Alex Glenn
12. TC Robati
13. Kobe Hetherington
14. Cory Paix
15. Thomas Flegler
16. Keenan Palasia
17. Jordan Riki
18. Ethan Bullemor
19. Jesse Arthars
20. Xavier Willison
21. Jamayne Isaako

Team Changes

IN: Thomas Flegler
Xavier Coates
Xavier Willison


OUT: nil

Tigers Team

1. Daine Laurie
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Junior Pauga
4. James Roberts
5. Ken Maumalo
6. Adam Doueihi
7. Luke Brooks
8. Stefano Utoikamanu
9. Jacob Liddle
10. James Tamou
11. Luke Garner
12. Luciano Leilua
13. Thomas Mikaele
14. Joe Ofahengaue
15. Alex Twal
16. Tukimihia Simpkins
17. Moses Mbye
18. Michael Chee Kam
19. Tommy Talau
20. Alex Seyfarth
21. Shawn Blore

Team Changes

IN: Junior Pauga
Tommy Talau
Tukimihia Simpkins


OUT:
nil

Referee: Gerard Sutton

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Broncos

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While Channel Nine hasn’t allowed them to play a day game since 1753, Brisbane adjusted to the strange, shiny orange thing in the sky to beat the Sharks 26-18 at Suncorp Stadium (Lang Park) in round 16, before enjoying a round 17 bye. The Broncos showed far more mental resolve in their win over the Sharks: they led 12-6 in the first half, saw the Sharks tie the game at 18-18 with 20 minutes left, before tries to Tesi Niu (his second) and Jesse Arthars secured the win.

As one of the few teams not affected by the NRL’s exodus to Queensland, and with only three more games against current top eight teams (Penrith, the Sydney Roosters, Cronulla-Sutherland), the Broncos can build some momentum and give fans hope heading into 2022. Or will it prove to be another false dawn, despite the good work (so far) of new Football and Performance Director Ben Ikin?

The Broncos will welcome back Xavier Coates and Thomas Flegler from Origin, while Xavier Willison is on the extended bench.

Tigers

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If any team needed a bye, it was the poor old Tigers. After the frightful Storm hammering, the Tigers trailed Souths 26-0 at halftime in round 16. This time they showed some fight, getting to 32-16 with 10 minutes left before Souths closed out the 38-22 win. Adam Doueihi scored two tries and three goals for the Tigers.

While the Tigers should avoid the wooden spoon, it’s hard to see them leaving the bottom four. It’ll be their seventh finish of 10th and below since 2012 and – at the moment – it’s hard to see things improving in 2022.

Junior Pauga returns at centre, Tukimihia Simpkins is on the interchange bench, and Tommy Talau is on the extended bench.

PREVIEW

For most of their 30-year existence, Brisbane provided the bulk of the Queensland team and the odd NSW player; now, they only have two (Coates and Flegler). Meanwhile, the Tigers have no Origin players. Not one.

While both teams will be fresh after the bye and minimal Origin involvement, who will take advantage of this? Brisbane seems the obvious choice on a hopefully sunny Sunday afternoon at Lang Park. Expect Payne Haas to rip in and justify/strengthen his claim for a $10 million payday.

The Tigers have leaked a combined 66 points to nil in their last two first halves (admittedly against two top four teams), so if Brisbane get a fast start, it could be all over by halftime.

This clash will be the second part of a Lang Park Sunday double-header, with the NZ Warriors playing Penrith in the earlier game.

KEY STAT

While Brisbane lead 21-7 (with one draw), the Tigers have won of the past three games.

They clobbered the struggling Broncos 48-0 in round 10 last year, scoring nine tries at Leichhardt Oval.

Their 2019 win at Lang Park was much closer: it was 16-16 with two minutes left with Michael Chee-Kam scored the winning try.

Brisbane’s won 9-7 at Campbelltown Stadium in 2018: in one of the strangest games in recent memory, Chee-Kam scored the only try in the game. Jamayne Isaako scored all of the Broncos’ points – through four goals and a field goal.

PREDICTION

While this is a battle between two of the bottom four stragglers, Brisbane have recent winning momentum, and will enjoy another glorious Sunday afternoon game at Lang Park. That should be enough.

Broncos by 10.

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