Dragons v Broncos NRLW preview

Embed from Getty Images
St George Illawarra Dragons v Brisbane Broncos Sunday 2:05pm at Bankwest Stadium

The second match in the NRLW this weekend sees the defending premiers the Brisbane Broncos taking on the St George Illawarra Dragons on Sunday afternoon at Bankwest Stadium.

St George Illawarra have had a massive rebuild for the 2019 season after finishing at the bottom of the ladder in 2018. The Dragons suffered two big defeats to the Broncos and Roosters last season with a hard-fought win against the Warriors wedged in the middle of the two games.

The 'Red V' have brought in no less than eight players from other clubs - including five players from the title winning Broncos side - as well as key halfback Maddie Studdon from the Roosters. The rebuild was necessary after losing star Sammy Bremner through pregnancy, and a number of other changes were key to strengthen the squad.

Brisbane were a class above in the inaugural NRLW season, however changes to the player cap system has meant that the QLD side has lost six players - including the five moving across to their first-round opponents. The Broncos in season 2018 went through undefeated across the three games, and were barely pushed in their matches - 12 points the most the Broncos conceded in a game.

Despite losing six players to other clubs, Brisbane have been able to keep a number of key players including Ali Brigginshaw and Chelsea Baker who were both key players last year. Brigginshaw played a key role in directing the Broncos around the park but her role becomes more important with the departure of Brittany Breayley to the Dragons.

Last meeting: Round 1 2018 - Broncos 30 Dragons 4

Who to watch: Former Bronco Brittany Breayley was named player of the season last year and her work at dummy half will be a massive boost to the Dragons side who struggled in attack last season. The addition of Breayley will provide better service for the Dragons and the addition of Maddie Studdon will make the 7 & 9 combination for the Dragons one to watch.

Broncos and QLD fullback Chelsea Baker has been a bright spark in recent times for Australia and QLD with the 33-year-old making a name for herself off her good work at the back but more importantly with her goal kicking. Baker played in all four games for the Broncos in 2018 and scored two tries but importantly kicked 15 goals. From the back, Baker averaged 114m per game which itself was a big part of the Broncos strength last year.

My tip: This game will be a closer affair than the 30-4 result in 2018, the Dragons have strengthened their squad significantly and the additions give them a very well-balanced side and with these key additions of Studdon and Breayley, the Dragons should be able to take victory. The Broncos don't have a weak side by any means but the loss of key players could hurt them. Dragons by 4.

1. Botille Vette-Welsh 2. Stephanie Mooka 3. Jessica Sergis 4. Tiana Penitani 5. Shakiah Tungai 6. Kimiora Nati 7. Maddie Studdon 8. Teuila Fotu-Moala 9. Brittany Breayley 10. Maitua Feterika 11. Kezie Apps 12. Shaylee Bent 13. Holli Wheeler 14. Keeley Davis 15. Takilele Katoa 16. Maddison Weatherall 17. Ngatokotoru Arakua

1. Chelsea Baker 2. Tamika Upton 3. Amy Turner 4. Amber Pilley 5. Meg Ward 6. Raecene McGregor 7. Ali Brigginshaw 8. Millie Boyle 9. Lavinia Gould 10. Amber Paris-hall 11. Annette Brander 12. Tazmin Gray 13. Rona Peters 14. Tarryn Aiken 15. Steph Hancock 16. Mariah Storch 17. Jessika Elliston

Referees: Adam Cassidy, Martin Jones; Sideline Officials: Tim Hannon, Karra-lee Nolan; Video Referees: Steve Clark, Ben Lowe;

Follow all the action LIVE in our Match Centre