Round 3: Broncos v Eels preview
A battle in Brisbane as the season kicks off... again.
On Thursday night, the wait will finally be over. The Broncos and Eels will kick off round 3 of the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership at Suncorp Stadium, after over 2 months since the conclusion of round 2. Both teams will be looking to keep their perfect season records intact and the Broncos will be out for revenge after last year's embarrassing 58-0 defeat in week 1 of the finals at the hands of the Eels. All sets up for what is a mouth-watering clash to kick off the season once again.
The Broncos looked in stellar touch in the opening 2 rounds of the competition and they will be hoping they can pick up where they left off before the NRL season's hiatus. Halfback Brodie Croft's injury prior to the season's suspension in their round 2 game against South Sydney has proven to have little effect on the Broncos as he is named to start his third game in Brisbane colours. The Broncos also welcome back club captain Alex Glenn who will start in the second row. David Fifita is a big loss for the Broncos, with his return up to 6 weeks away. Jamil Hopoate steps into the vacant starting second row position left by Fifita. Prop forward Matt Lodge has been named in the reserves in jersey number 21, however in a boost for the Broncos, Lodge is expected to make his return from injury via the bench, with Ethan Bullemor likely to drop out of the gameday 17.
The Eels also started the season with a perfect record, winning a tough and gritty game against the Bulldogs, before putting on a show in the last 20 minutes against the Titans to run away with the win in comfortable fashion. Hooker Reed Mahoney will be available to play, following a foot injury which occurred in their round 2 clash against the Titans. Marata Niukore will start at lock in place of Nathan Brown.
Both teams have a perfect early season record on the line on Thursday night. The Broncos looked as though they were in terrific form to start the season and they will be looking for revenge against this Eels side. The Broncos looked as though they were in cruise control for the majority of both of their matches. However, they did seem to fade out towards the back end of both of their matches and this could be a concern if it is to happen again come Thursday night. The Eels are known for their attacking prowess, as was shown in their thumping of the Broncos in last year's finals series, as well as their last match against the Titans. In their round 2 game, the Eels ran in 26 points in the last 20 mins. If the Broncos are unable to play this game for the full 80 minutes, the Eels could potentially unleash late in the game.
This was the biggest scoring margin in finals history and an embarrassing defeat for the Broncos club. Such a comprehensive victory is not often seen in finals football and one would imagine that the Broncos will be looking to set things right and get a win over the team that ended their 2019 campaign.
Who to watch: Broncos young-gun centre Kotoni Staggs was in scintillating form to begin the 2020 season before the temporary shutdown of the competition. Staggs saw his praise from many and there were even some early talks of a NSW Origin jumper. Staggs is one of the most talented young players in the game with a large skill set, as well as plenty of speed and strength to go along with it. The centre has also scored four tries in the opening two rounds of the competition and will be hoping to see his try scoring form continue into Round 3.
For the Eels, Dylan Brown. Brown is an incredibly exciting young player with a huge future ahead of him in the game. His performance against the Titans in round 2 was outstanding and he will be hoping he can back that up in round 3 more than 2 months later. A dangerous ball runner as well as a silky ball-player, Brown can be difficult to contain, especially if the Broncos start to fade out towards the back end of the game.
My tip: The Eels haven't been particularly convincing in the opening two rounds and maybe by no fault of their own. The opening two rounds of the draw had them up against two teams that are expected to struggle in 2020. Whilst they did manage to win both games, they were in a real contest against the Bulldogs in round 1 and only really managed to take advantage of their mountains of possession against the Titans in the last 20 minutes of round 2. The Broncos are frankly better quality than that and won't allow the Eels that amount of possession on their own line. The Broncos looked in control in the first two rounds despite the loss of David Fifita, they still have a very impressive forward pack that will line up on Thursday night. Broncos by 8.
Brisbane Broncos Form Guide
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Parramatta Eels Form Guide
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