2012 Toyota Cup Previews - Part 1 of 4

Brisbane Broncos
2011 Review - The Broncos were one of the most inconsistent teams of 2011. Only Grand finalists North Queensland and Warriors scored more points than the Broncos, yet their patchy form saw them miss the finals by just one win. The Broncos form could be put down partly to the fact that star players Kurt Baptiste, Dane Gagai and Corey Norman all had to play in the NRL during the year and Jordan Kahu suffered a season ending knee injury in Round 2.
2012 Preview - The Broncos team has maintained a strong core group of players from the previous season, most importantly in the halves. With the experience of last year, the Broncos will be expecting a top 4 finish in 2012.

Canberra Raiders
2011 Review - Canberra would have been somewhat disappointed with their performance in 2011. Ranked 4th in attack, the Raiders finished a dismal 13th on the ladder. The Green machine scored points freely and were looking a strong finals contender mid-season, but 6 straight losses pushed them out of the race and down the ladder. The loss of Sam Williams to the NRL side was the biggest factor behind this downturn in form.
2012 Preview - The Raiders have a lot of players from 2011 returning this year. Their ability to score points is their major concern, as they will be without playmaker Williams. They have enough classy players to still score points if given quality opportunities, however their defence still has a question mark over it. They are capable of improving on 2011 and scraping into the finals.

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
2011 Review - The Bulldogs were a defensively powerful unit in 2011, thanks somewhat to being one of the few teams that avoided disruptions during the year to their pack. They strung together 7 consecutive victories during the mid-season to entrench them in the top 5, where they stayed for the rest of the season. They lost in week 1 of the finals to Cronulla, before keeping out a resurgent Melbourne team in week 2. Their dream of a Grand Final berth was obliterated when belted 64-0 by eventual premiers Warriors in the Grand Final qualifier.
2012 Preview - The Bulldogs pack has lost its star forward Dale Finucane, centre Tim Lafai and prop Sam Kasiano to the NRL side. This will have a massive impact on the teams ability to score points, so the new players will have a lot of pressure on them right from Round 1. Defensively they will still be a dominant force. They should make the finals if they gel in attack early on. Look for them to come home with a wet sail.

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
2011 Review - The Sharks finished third in 2011 and after showing great defence in the finals to topple the Bulldogs and the Roosters, they looked set for a spirited contest in the Grand Final qualifier against the Cowboys. The Cowboys though ran rampant, winning 38-14. The Sharks however were far from disgraced. They had a slow start, but quickly got on track via a 7 game winning streak towards the end of the season which saw them secure third place.
2012 Preview - As strong as the Sharks were in 2011, it will be a challenge for the team to better that performance in 2011. So many integral players have moved into the NRL side, most notably Chad Townsend, Tyson Frizzell, Tyrone Peachey and Stewart Mills. Their defence was also questionable at times and this coupled with their key attacking weapons moving to the NRL, it leaves the Sharks with a new squad and they may slip into the bottom half of the ladder in 2012.

Tomorrow: Titans, Sea Eagles, Storm, Knights