Preview: Brisbane Broncos vs Melbourne Storm

Two of the competition heavyweights will come head to head on Friday night at a packed out Suncorp Stadium, with the Broncos desperate to snap a month of poor form. Melbourne are set to be without half of their spine, with fullback Cameron Munster and five eight Blake Green ruled out for the clash. Meanwhile, the Broncos are once again without Sam Thaiday who is serving a suspension from Origin game 2, as well as Jack Reed and Jordan Kahu. The return of Andrew McCullough and Alex Glenn will provide a tremendous boost for the home side.

Last Time Out
The Broncos were woeful against the Bulldogs last round, copping a 40-18 hiding, with the Bulldogs big men simply outmuscling the Broncos forward pack. The Broncos forward pack failed the challenge that faced them, with David Klemmer and Tony Williams copying fellow behemoth Sam Kasiano’s two try effort to get on the try scoring list. The Broncos made 8 errors and conceded just 4 penalties, with a massive 48 missed tackles leading to their down fall. Wayne Bennet surely would have punished his side throughout the week for their effort against Canterbury.

The Storm looked set to put on an absolute clinic against the Tigers, going into the halftime break with a 26-0 lead. A fury of four tries in 15 minutes would have had Tigers fans dreading the rest of the afternoon, however the game proved to be a tale of two halves. The Tigers came out looking like a completely different side in the second half, with their unorthodox play resulting in 22 unanswered points being scored. However, Cooper Cronk once again came to the Storm’s rescue, cooly slotting a field goal in the 75th minute to put the result beyond doubt, the Storm going on to win 29-20.

Key Battles
The Storm’s combination of Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith will return to the ground that they helped clinch series victory for Queensland just over a week ago, however this time they will be looking to break the hearts of the home fans. Opposing them in the Broncos number 7 and 9 jerseys is Ben Hunt and Anthony McCullough. Hunt has copped plenty of criticism this season, as he has failed to find the immense form that he displayed last season. He will need to upstage the ultimate professional in Cooper Cronk if the Broncos are to be any chance of winning. McCullough will make a timely return from injury, with the Broncos clearly missing the direction of their hooker. He will have no time to ease back into first grade, as he immediately faces the challenge of the greatest dummy half of all time, Smith.

Prediction
The Storm head into this game with the form advantage, and although it’s a Broncos home game, Melbourne have won 10 of their past 11 matches at the fortress that is Suncorp Stadium. The Broncos have arguably the strongest squad in the competition and should bounce back from their poor form, however Craig Bellamy’s side should be too clinical, icing victory in a nail-biter.

Storm by 1

Squads
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd 2 Corey Oates 3 Kodi Nikorima 4 James Roberts 5 Lachlan Maranta 6 Anthony Milford 7 Ben Hunt 8 Josh McGuire 9 Andrew McCullough 10 Adam Blair 11 Alex Glenn 12 Matt Gillett 13 Corey Parker Interchange: 14 Jarrod Wallace 15 Tevita Pangai 16 Jaydn Sua 17 Travis Waddell

Storm: 1 Young Tonumaipea 2 Suliasi Vunivalu 3 Cheyse Blair 4 Ryan Morgan 5 Marika Koroibete 6 Tohu Harris 7 Cooper Cronk 8 Jesse Bromwich 9 Cameron Smith 10 Jordan McLean 11 Kevin Proctor 12 Kenneth Bromwich 13 Dale Finucane Interchange: 14 Felise Kaufusi 15 Christian Welch 16 Matthew White 17 Benjamin Hampton 18 Curtis Scott 23 Slade Griffin

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