Round 18: Broncos v Warriors preview
Two sides come together with vastly different last round form come together in a clash that could bring anything as the Broncos host the New Zealand Warriors at Suncorp Stadium.
The Broncos had an all-Queensland derby up against the Gold Coast Titans who were looking to double up on their early season upset victory over the Broncos. The Broncos were missing their origin stars but it didn't mean anything as the Broncos turned on the style running out 34-0 winners over the Titans after a 20-0 lead at Half Time. The most impressive part of the Broncos win last week was their dominance in possession and a completion rate of 78%.
The Broncos have taken three straight victories though it has kept them in just seventh spot on the NRL ladder with 10 wins from their 16 games this season which is the win/loss rate as they had in 2017 but sit two places lower on the ladder. The Broncos have scored 9 less points in 2018 than they had in 2017 but concerningly have leaked 50 more points this season compared to last.
There are four big changes for the Broncos with Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Corey Oates and James Roberts all named to back up from Origin three although it will be seen if that any of the Origin players do play after a four-day back-up.
Dominated was the word to best describe the Warriors efforts last week when they fell to a shock loss to the very under-strength Penrith Panthers side. The Warriors were tipped to run rampant over the Panthers side who were fielding a side with a halves combination with just 10 games combined experience with Jerome Luai only making 1 appearance off the bench. The Warriors were in the game for twenty minutes and had two forward passes called that on TV looked as if they were a touch harsh. The Warriors then could pose no questions for the Panthers attack who had a field day down the Warriors right side. The Warriors could manage no more than a consolation try as they were defeated 36-4.
The defeat left questions about the Warriors and if they were set for a repeat of previous years where the slid down the ladder, the Warriors sit in eighth spot following their loss to the Panthers and although their in no danger of falling out of the top 8 immediately with a 6 point gap between 8th and 9th, a string of bad form for the Warriors and a string of good form from the Raiders could see the New Zealander's fall out of the 8.
The Warriors have made just two changes with Ken Maumalo ruled out of the clash whilst Anthony Gelling joins the bench in place of Ligi Sao, Peta Hiku who was taken from the field late against the Panthers following some shocking defence has kept his spot at this stage.
The Broncos have won four of the last six clashes between the sides and the Warriors haven't tasted victory at Suncorp Stadium since 2013 where the Warriors ran out 56-18 winners.
Who to watch: Kodi Nikorima - Often taking the ire of Broncos fans, Nikorima put in a commanding performance for the Broncos last week leading the side around after taking the dominant halves role last weekend against the Titans. The Broncos youngster has had his best run of form this season over the past few weeks with 11 line breaks across the past three rounds. If the Broncos are to keep the form up, Nikorima again needs to stand up.
Shaun Johnson - The Warriors halfback was often non-existent at times last week against the Panthers. The Warriors halfback was looking dominant early on but as the arm-wrestle continued and the Panthers started to get on top in the match, Johnson was missing in action on several occasions. The Warriors will need Johnson firing if they want to bounce back to form and get a much-needed win over the Broncos.
My tip: It's hard to go past the Broncos in this one, even if the Origin stars don't back up there is too much class in this Broncos side for them to win. The Warriors on a 10 day back-up will need to have improved massively and without changes to the right side defence, the Broncos could have a field day just like the Panthers did. Broncos by 12.