Andrew Pelechaty previews the round eight opener: Brisbane v Cronulla-Sutherland …
Brisbane Broncos v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.
Date: e.g., Thursday April 28 7:50pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Broncos: Te Maire Martin 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Corey Jensen 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Riki 13. Kobe Hetherington 14. Cory Paix 15. Rhys Kennedy 16. Thomas Flegler 17. Keenan Palasia 18. Brenko Lee 19. Jordan Pereira 20. TC Robati 21. Ezra Mam 22. Ethan Quai-Ward 23. Logan Bayliss-Brow 24. Ryan James.
Brisbane capitalised on their competitive displays against the Sydney Roosters and Penrith with a huge win over Canterbury-Bankstown at Lang Park, though the 34-14 margin didn’t reflect the Bulldogs’ tenacity.
The Dogs led 14-6 after 55 minutes (a double to Josh Addo-Carr) and looked like pulling off an upset. Then the Broncos scored five tries in 21 minutes (two to Selwyn Cobbo, singles to Cory Paix, Adam Reynolds, and Rhys Kennedy) to run away with the game.
The same 17 from the Bulldogs game backs up against the Sharks.Embed from Getty Images
Sharks: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aiden Tolman 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Dale Finucane 14. Jack Williams 15. Cameron McInnes 16. Royce Hunt 17. Andrew Fifita 18. Braydon Trindall 19. Wade Graham 20. Matt Ikuvalu 21. Mawene Hiroti 22. Lachlan Miller 23. Luke Metcalf 24. Franklin Pele.
Cronulla-Sutherland played one of the strangest games in recent memory on Thursday night at Shark Park.
It was almost a junior footy game in the first half as Siosifa Talakai tore Manly Warringah apart and terrorised their right-edge defence, including a clever infield kick for William Kennedy to score. Talakai and Ronaldo Mulitalo scored two tries each as the Sharks led 32-0 at half-time (not even the Canberra Raiders could blow this lead…).
Manly, to their credit, fought hard in torrential rain, with tries to Christian Tuipulotu, Taniela Paseka, Lachlan Croker, and Haumole Olakau’atu closing the gap to 32-22 with 15 minutes left. The Sharks hung on with a steadying Nicholas Hynes penalty goal to win 34-22. Talakai finished with 262 run metres, eight tackle breaks, three line breaks, and three try assists.
Just one change to the 17, with skipper Dale Finucane returning to the starting side after a head knock.
On paper and form, this looks like a comfortable win for the Sharks, but Brisbane have improved a lot in the past three weeks, with competitive displays against the Roosters, the Panthers, and the big win against the Bulldogs.
There’s been a bit of hype about the battle between Kotoni Staggs and Talakai. Interviewed on Nine after Brisbane’s win, Staggs said, “I just gotta play my footy…back what I can do…and I’ll give him a run for his money.” It could be one of the best individual battles this season. Watch this space!
Another huge battle is between halfbacks Adam Reynolds v Nicholas Hynes. Reynolds has (so far) been worth the money for Brisbane and has helped them improve. While he can’t do it all himself, he’s stepped up in the last few weeks and the Broncos have improved because of it. While some ex-Melbourne players can struggle at their new clubs, Hynes has lifted the Sharks from a mid-table team to a top four side. He’s already proven he can handle the clutch moments: kicking the winning conversion against Parramatta, and scoring 16 points (a try and six goals) in their thrashing of St George Illawarra.
The Sharks have been almost faultless this year: they were unlucky to lose against Canberra in round one (coming from 18-6 down to lead 19-18), were competitive against Melbourne, squeezed past Parramatta, and crushed the Dragons and Tigers.
The Sharks should be too good here, though Brisbane will fight them all the way. Even if the Broncos don’t win, if they can keep fighting and show fans they’re on the right track, then that’s a big step towards happier days at Lang Park.Embed from Getty Images
Brisbane and Cronulla had a big rivalry during the only Super League season. While Brisbane sailed to the minor premiership (14 wins, one draw, three losses), the Sharks weren’t far behind, finishing second with a 12-6 record.
The Broncos and Sharks played four times in 1997, with Brisbane winning three of them.
Round Five: Brisbane 14-12, QEII.
Round 13: Cronulla 32-4, Shark Park.
Major Semi-Final: Brisbane 34-2, Townsville.
Grand Final: Brisbane 26-8, QEII.
They weren’t far off a return clash in the World Club Championship Grand Final: Brisbane beat Auckland 22-16 in their semi-final, while the Sharks lost 22-18 to Hunter.Embed from Getty Images
Sharks by 10.
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