Andrew Pelechaty previews the Saturday night clash between Brisbane and Canberra …
Brisbane Broncos Vs Canberra Raiders
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Date: Saturday June 11, 7:35pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Broncos: 1. Te Maire Martin 2. Corey Oates 3. TBA 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Ezra Mam 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Corey Jensen 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. TC Robati 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Cory Paix 15. Kobe Hetherington 16. Thomas Flegler 17. Keenan Palasia 18. Delouise Hoeter 19. Rhys Kennedy 20. Jordan Pereira 21. Brenko Lee 22. Ryan James 23. Xavier Willison 24. Brendan Piakura
A big in for Brisbane, with Adam Reynolds back. Ezra Mam moves to five-eighth and Tyson Gamble out with lower leg soreness. TC Robati replaces a rested Kurt Capewell.
Selwyn Cobbo, Payne Haas, and Pat Carrigan are backing up from Wednesday night. Kotoni Staggs is out.Embed from Getty Images
Raiders: 1. Xavier Savage 2. Nick Cotric 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Sebastian Kris 5. James Schiller 6. Jack Wighton 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Adam Elliott 14. Tom Starling 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Corey Harawira-Naera 17. Corey Horsburgh 18. Semi Valemei 19. Matt Frawley 20. Trey Mooney 21. Harry Rushton 22. Adrian Trevilyan
It’s “Schiller Time” for Canberra, with Jordan Rapana’s ban seeing James Schiller (the nephew of former Raider Brett Mullins) come in on the wing.
Origin reps Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii are named to back up, with Matt Frawley in the reserves and Corey Horsburgh back on the bench. Corey Harawira-Naera (COVID-19 protocols) also returns on the bench.
Referee: Grant Atkins.
After a couple of one-sided games, we finally have a tantalising clash between an equally in-form Brisbane and Canberra.
Few would have expected Brisbane to be in fourth at the halfway mark, especially after starting 2-4. They’ve won six in a row since (beating Canterbury-Bankstown, Cronulla-Sutherland, South Sydney, Manly Warringah, Newcastle, and the Gold Coast) and got the two points from the bye. While Adam Reynolds has been the class injection that Brisbane needed, the Broncos have won the last two games without him, which is a great sign.
Like Brisbane, Canberra have also recovered from a bad start. They were 2-6 after eight rounds, with unforgivable second half collapses against North Queensland (which ruined many Raiders fans’ Easter long weekend) and the NZ Warriors. Fans were angry, were calling for Ricky Stuart’s head, and were bracing for a possible wooden spoon. Then came the turnaround, with four wins from their last five (Canterbury-Bankstown, Cronulla-Sutherland, South Sydney, Sydney Roosters); the one loss to Parramatta was far from disgraceful. More importantly, the dreaded “Faders” have gone (at least for now), despite a few nervous moments, as Canberra’s defence has finally grown a backbone.
While Brisbane will enjoy the Lang Park home ground advantage (a place Canberra have traditionally struggled at), Canberra will arguably be more desperate. With a 6-7 record and just outside the eight, Canberra need to keep going as the earlier five-game losing run hasn’t given them a lot of leeway (and they have the two bye points up their sleeve). By contrast, the 8-4 Broncos do have some leeway; but rather than needing to win to survive, they need to win to stay in the top four race.
The last time Canberra played Brisbane at Lang Park was Round 16, 2018. The Milk led 16-0 at half-time (and 22-12 after 60 minutes) before Brisbane won 26-22. The fadeout was predictable in a disappointing season for Canberra, as they blew countless big leads to miss the finals. Brisbane finished sixth but were upset by St George Illawarra in the elimination final. Since then, Canberra have won the last three (26-22, 36-8, 38-16), all at Bruce.Embed from Getty Images
While Brisbane and Canberra were 1990s powerhouses (dragging the New South Wales Rugby League from its suburban Sydney roots into a slightly more national code), they only played each other in three finals games during the decade.
The first was 1990, with Canberra beating Brisbane 32-4 in the preliminary final, rebounding from a close loss to Penrith in the major semi-final, before going on to beat Penrith in the grand final.
Brisbane got revenge in 1993. The defending premiers were heading towards another title and belted the Raiders (in freefall after losing Ricky Stuart) 30-12 in the major semi-final.
The last was 1995, with Canberra ”hosting” Brisbane at Lang Park in the first final held outside Sydney. The Raiders beat Brisbane 14-8 but were bundled out by the ”Sydney” Bulldogs in the preliminary final.
The closest we came to a first grade Brisbane vs Canberra grand final was 1997. While Brisbane won the Super League premiership, Canberra narrowly missed joining them in the grand final, losing the preliminary final to Cronulla-Sutherland.
Of course, Raiders fans would remember the first Toyota Cup Grand Final (2008), with Canberra beating Brisbane 28-24.
Canberra by six.
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