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New-look Broncos hope for Magic Round revenge against Manly
The last time the Broncos and Sea Eagles met at Magic Round, Tom Trbojevic scored a double in a 50-6 demolition job that made a mockery of Brisbane's brittle defence.
But in the space of a year plenty has changed. Of course, Brisbane has a new No. 7 - and he put in his best performance in Broncos colours last week to spark an upset win over his former side.
Brisbane's sudden resurgence though is down to more than just the signature of Adam Reynolds.
Sure, the 2014 premiership-winning halfback was the headline act in last Thursday's victory over South Sydney, but he was not alone.
Patrick Carrigan made an immediate impact in his return from injury while Selwyn Cobbo once again proved why the Broncos are in such a hurry to get him extended at Red Hill.
More than anything, the Broncos showed the defensive resolve that has so often deserted them in the past, like it did last year in Magic Round against the Sea Eagles.
And Brisbane did it without two its most important players - Payne Haas and Kurt Capewell - with both forwards set to return this week in a timely boost.
Manly will be yet another stern test of Brisbane's resolve, coming off a 36-22 win over a resilient Tigers outfit.
For all their talent on paper, the Sea Eagles are yet to really put together a complete 80-minute performance like the one from Magic Round last year.
Injuries have played their part but with Tom Trbojevic well and truly settled in, the Sea Eagles are eventually bound to click in attack and prove they are genuine premiership contenders.
Josh Schuster put on a show in last year's 44-point win over Brisbane, scoring a try and setting up another while running for over 130 metres.
But the crafty edge forward looks set to miss another week with a calf injury, although the return of Haumole Olakau'atu eases the pain there for Manly.
Last meeting: Round 10 2021 - Sea Eagles 50 Broncos 6
Who to watch: It seems like it will only be a matter of time before Tolutau Koula finally has the breakout game of his rookie career. Koula showed glimpses of his blistering speed last week against the Tigers, making a break before setting up Daly Cherry-Evans in a long-range effort. Brisbane boasts plenty of genuine game-breakers in its backline and despite his relative inexperience, Koula has the speed and footwork to be that for Manly should Trbojevic be well-contained.
Speaking of Trbojevic, Penrith provided the early blueprint for shutting down the Manly fullback in the season-opener. Sean O'Sullivan kicked Trbojevic out of the game and Broncos halfback Adam Reynolds has the ability to do the same. Reynolds' pinpoint kicking was one of the key differences between South Sydney and Brisbane last week and will only be more important this week given his opposite number. Daly Cherry-Evans also boasts one of the best boots in the game but he will more than meet his match in Reynolds, who has the variety to really test Manly's back three.
The favourite: The Sea Eagles are favourites but bookies are tipping a close one.
My tip: Brisbane is riding a wave of confidence and having disappointed in its last start at Magic Round, look for the Reynolds-led Broncos to redeem themselves. Brisbane by 7.
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Christian Tuipulotu 3. Ben Trbojevic 4. Tolutau Koula 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Sean Keppie 11. Haumole Olakau'atu 12. Ethan Bullemor 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Dylan Walker 15. Andrew Davey 16. Martin Taupau 17. Toafofoa Sipley 19. Morgan Harper
1. Te Maire Martin 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Corey Jensen 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Cory Paix 15. Kobe Hetherington 16. Thomas Flegler 17. Keenan Palasia 18. Brenko Lee
Referees: Grant Atkins; Sideline Officials: Chris Sutton, Dave Munro; Video Referees: Chris Butler;