Full Time
7:35pm Sat August 13, 2022
Round 22 - Suncorp Stadium, Milton / Yuggera-Turrbal - Crowd: 25742

Round 22: Broncos v Knights preview

Broncos Look To Keep Top Four Hopes Alive Against Knights Side Playing Only For Pride

We are reminded, ironically almost weekly, that a week is a long time in Rugby League. For the Broncos, just two rounds ago they were sitting pretty in outright fourth position with a draw that would seemingly allow them to cruise to their first such finish since 2017.

Since then, two big losses at the hands of the Wests Tigers and Roosters has seen them plummet down to seventh, and are currently just as likely to miss the top eight altogether as they are to make the top four. They return home to Suncorp to face the Knights in a match that should be a layup victory, however we saw how that narrative ended against the Tigers two weeks ago.

The Knights themselves, despite being out of finals contention in 2022, have not been without drama themselves during the season (that might be the understatement of the century). Between constant conjecture surrounding coach O'Brien's job security and the situation with David Klemmer changing for the better or worse almost on the daily, the Knights have backed up consecutive finals appearances with a dismal year on the field, winning just six games so far to sit in the bottom four.

Despite all that, they were able to rally for an unlikely victory away from home against an in-form Tigers side last week. A first half blitz saw them race out to a 14-0 lead, and they were able to hold off a fast finishing Wests side to win 14-10. It was an impressive showing all things considered, not just the off-field events but the fact they only completed at 65%, something which would usually hinder their poor attack.

The less said about the Broncos last week the better. They had an opportunity against another top eight team to make a statement that the Tigers loss was a fluke and further flex their premiership credentials. Instead, they missed the starting gun completely and found themselves down 18-0 inside just 15 minutes. Some more soft defence allowed another 16 points to be scored by the Roosters, which ensured Brisbane were never in with a realistic chance of winning.

Tesi Niu has been dropped as a result of his poor performance. Replacing him at fullback is Te Maire Martin, who returned from injury via Queensland Cup, where he played exceptionally well. Brenko Lee is in at centre in place of Deine Mariner, while Billy Walters has been named to start at hooker but may be swapped out to the bench at the last minute for Jake Turpin, as was the case last week.

For the Knights, Jake Clifford is out with an arm injury, replaced at halfback by Adam Clune. Anthony Milford will line up against his old club for the second time this year, while David Klemmer is back after his much publicised week off due to disciplinary actions. His inclusion pushed Jacob Saifiti to the bench. Mitch Barnett is out with a thumb injury, replaced at lock by Mat Croker.

Last meeting: Round 11 2022 - Knights 12 Broncos 36

Who to watch: It's hard to say that any Broncos player had a good game last Thursday, however you can say with confidence that Tesi Niu was one of the worst on ground. His poor positioning in defence and under the highball were big reasons the Roosters were able to get out to the lead they did so early. It's because of this that Te Maire Martin is the player to watch for Brisbane this week. In 9 games with TMM as the custodian, the Broncos have conceded just 17.6 points per game compared to 23.1 with Niu. He may no longer have the ability to come up with highlight reel worthy plays, but Martin's positioning and defensive organisation is what the Broncos need. He put up a strong performance last week in Queensland Cup which included 2 line breaks, 2 try assists and a try. If he can continue the form he was in pre-injury, he will again be a crucial part of this Broncos side.

There are many question marks hanging over many different positions within the Knights organisation on and off the field. The long term hooker is not one of them. It's no coincidence that Jayden Brailey having one of his better games last week saw the Knights record a rare win. The tough as nails number 9 made 47 tackles for only 1 miss while running 6 times for 69 metres, all while chalking up a try assist, line break assist and tackle break. It's also worth noting that the Knights will have big David Klemmer back out there, giving Brailey an even better platform to work his magic off the back of. Not many are giving Newcastle any chance of causing the upset on Saturday. If they are to achieve the unlikely, Brailey will need to at play to or above the standard he set last week.

The favourite: The Broncos are 18.5 point favourites over the Knights at the time of writing.

My tip: I'm just going to keep this one simple. Broncos by 20.