Broncos v Warriors preview

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Brisbane Broncos v Warriors Saturday 7:50pm at Suncorp Stadium, Milton / Yuggera-Turrbal

Early dominance key to victory in battle between Broncos and Warriors

We have two of the hungriest, two of the most in-form teams coming off the back of commanding victories and with full compliments of troops. Coupled with a sold-out Suncorp Stadium fan base, you have the formula for fireworks this Saturday night.

Dreams are made of this kind of story for the game we love. Both teams have come back from the ashes of being written off, wooden spooned, and banished from their homeland over the last few years, only to shake up the NRL finals series for 2023. No one could say these two teams haven't earned their spot, haven't been at the top of their games, haven't made excuses, and have left the talking to on-field performances. 
The Broncos dismantled the Melbourne Storm 26-0 at their home ground; they were unstoppable. The Warriors were relentless in their 40-10 victory over Newcastle, just as relentless were their fans.

 And it could be the fan base of Brisbane that will help the Broncos push for victory. Although the Broncos have won four of their last ten matches against the Warriors, their record against the New Zealanders fares well at Suncorp Stadium, having taken nine of the last fifteen games at Suncorp away from the Warriors. When they last met, an origin-depleted Broncos dug deep to hold off the Warriors in Naipier during Round 13 with a 26-22 win. But for both teams, it will be more than this season's performance that's on the line.  The Broncos are looking for their first title in 17 years, with arguably their best throw of the dice to date.

While the Warriors are yet to take a Grand Final, Coach Andrew Websters says his team believes in themselves, and that they belong in the finals. A relentless pace of play is what saw the Warriors put in 16 points in the first fifteen minutes of the game against Newcastle. Coach Andrew Webster talked about the team putting the energy in the right place for such an important game, not letting the moment overwhelm them, and allowing errors to creep in. 

It's one thing to keep that in check for a sold-out Go Media Stadium of 26,000 Wahs fans; it's another thing to keep it in check for a 52,000-capacity crowd at Suncorp. 

The Broncos are blessed with a full-strength team ahead of Saturday's clash and have all pulled up fresh for the preliminary final. Brisbane Coach Kevvie Walters has gone with the same team line-up from the first-week finals victory. We can see a battle ensuing with a clash of two top props of the game in Addin Fonua-Blake and Payne Haas. When asked about going up against the in-form Warrior's prop, Haas said he loves those kinds of challenges. Haas commented that the Broncos forwards will have to set the tone by dragging them down to deep waters early.

A nation collectively held its breath as Shaun Johnson pulled up from training with a calf injury. With the outcome being bad for several key players this year, such as Latrell Mitchel, there was cause for concern. But Shaun Johnson has been named in the team in what will be a great battle of experience between two gun half-backs and team leaders. Marata Niukore and Josh Curran have also overcome injuries sustained in last week's game to make the same winning team as last week.

Last meeting: Round 13 2023 - Warriors 22 Broncos 26

Who to watch: This game is full of battles, from the props to the halves to the gun full-backs; expect the very best to be on display. Without a doubt, Reece Walsh will be everywhere and at lightning pace, exposing any holes from undisciplined or tired defence. His opposite number, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, has also been enjoying exposing poor defence, notching up 32 runs and 297 meters in his last run out; he will be hitting the grass at Suncorp with the same gusto. The entertainment doesn't stop there, with both teams outside backs putting on athletic tries of the yearly season. It won't be a matter of if, but when Selwyn Cobbo or Dallin Watene-Zelezniak make a break into open space, they will bring the house down. With Mobile forward packs, the middle will be a highlight in particular between Addin Fonua-Blake and Payne Haas.

A battle to watch will be between the two hearts of the teams, the two veteran halfbacks, defying age and playing commanding rugby at the right time of season and career. When asked to reflect on the season, Adam Reynolds commented that the team have put themselves in a position to do something great. The little general is the stoic head in a sea of emotion that the Broncos are facing ahead of this preliminary final. The confidence that the Warriors get from Shaun Johnson has helped them collectively rise to the occasion as a team. We are on for a treat if that confidence finds its mark with a pass or the boot.

Favourite: And rightfully so, is the Brisbane Broncos. Showing grit, skill, and endurance, this close to a grand final and a home game, it is hard to show them being anything else but favourite.

My tip: Up the Wahs! It may be their toughest battle in years, but I feel they are hitting the crest of form at the right time. This will not be easy, a close battle by one point.

1. Reece Walsh 2. Jesse Arthars 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Ezra Mam 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Tyson Smoothy 15. Brendan Piakura 16. Kobe Hetherington 17. Keenan Palasia 18. Corey Oates

1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Rocco Berry 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Mitchell Barnett 11. Jackson Ford 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tohu Harris 14. Dylan Walker 15. Jazz Tevaga 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Josh Curran 20. Taine Tuaupiki

Referees: Gerard Sutton; Sideline Officials: Phil Henderson, Drew Oultram; Video Referees: Ashley Klein;

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