Broncos v Raiders preview

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Brisbane Broncos v Canberra Raiders Saturday 7:35pm at Suncorp Stadium, Milton / Yuggera-Turrbal

Match of the Round billing as the 90's glamour clubs go head to head

An unlikely candidate for match of the round sees the Brisbane Broncos take on the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium as the main course on Super Saturday. 

Brisbane continued their win loss tangent to kick start 2024 with a commanding 28-14 victory over the Dolphins. The Broncos set aside a poor opening forty minutes to capitalise on every Dolphins mistake to blow the Phins back to Redcliffe. Reece Walsh capped a great return from injury with a length of the field effort but was overall kept in touch by the opposition. Pat Carrigan and Corey Jensen carried the forward progression as well as Xavier Willison who had his best game at NRL level. 

For the match against the Raiders, they need to match the opposition forward intensity from the outset. Papali'i and Tapine are absolute gamebreakers, while Morgan Smithies is starting to get into the grind of NRL footy. If they switch off for just a second, they will struggle to wrestle momentum back. Their backs have an edge in this one, so they will fancy their chances to attack the Raiders down the edges. Also the kicking game of Jock Madden will be key, especially targeting the rookie Chevy Stewart.

On the team front, the Broncos remain as per program. Payne Haas and Adam Reynolds are set to earn another week on the sideline as they recover from injury. 

Canberra have been competition surprise packets so far, dominating most opposition this year and being in every match they have played. Going against most predictions made about the green machine so far in season 2024 (including yours truly). A 90 minute epic against the winless Titans will spark some questions about their attack, but given it was an NRL debut for Stewart, it gets a pass for now.

To beat the Broncos, they will need to complete attacking chances. Due to the poor discipline of the Titans, the Raiders had so much possession. Given the Titans defensive history, three tries seems like a bit of a disappointing effort. On defence, they had some lapses on the edges which will be fixed with more continuity. Given the attacking flair of the Broncos, if it isn't fixed fast, then it will continue to be a problem and Brisbane will have an absolute field day.

On the team front, Zac Hosking is out, replaced by Ata Mariota. Simi Sasagi joins the bench. James Schiller is again on the wing in the absence of Albert Hopoate, who has been left out for another week after suffering burns in a cooking accident last month. 

Last meeting: Round 26 2023 - Raiders 18 Broncos 29

Who to watch: The focus for me is on Billy Walters. Given the depth at hooker for the Broncos, Walters must be feeling the pressure to perform on a weekly basis with Tyson Smoothy, Blake Mozer and Cory Paix chomping at the bits. Walters' running game has been of notice in the past, but he needs to be more creative with Smoothy showcasing better options with ball in hand in recent weeks. Look for a bounce back for Billy.

Ethan Strange has showcased a strong running game in recent weeks. His break against the Titans was critical in getting the Raiders into field goal range. Another asset has been his defensive game, tackling at a high rate. His touches has gone up in recent weeks to a career high 38 on the weekend, given that he's getting more confident on the football, Strange will be one to watch this weekend.

Favourite: Brisbane are slight favourites for this clash. Canberra would feel confident after completing an ambush at Suncorp Stadium last season.

My tip:  I am going to back the Broncos in for this one. Canberra have been the surprise packets of the comp as mentioned previously, but with the Broncos getting troops back. I feel that it will be a victory based on attacking flair. Canberra have the slight edge in the middle and will fight hard but just lacking attacking instinct. Broncos by 6

1. Reece Walsh 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Selwyn Cobbo 5. Jesse Arthars 6. Ezra Mam 7. Jock Madden 8. Corey Jensen 9. Billy Walters 10. Fletcher Baker 11. Jaiyden Hunt 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Tyson Smoothy 15. Xavier Willison 16. Kobe Hetherington 17. Tristan Sailor 18. Martin Taupau

1. Chevy Stewart 2. James Schiller 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Sebastian Kris 5. Xavier Savage 6. Ethan Strange 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papali'i 9. Danny Levi 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 15. Simi Sasagi 13. Morgan Smithies 12. Ata Mariota 14. Tom Starling 16. Trey Mooney 17. Pasami Saulo 18. Kaeo Weekes

Referees: Chris Butler; Sideline Officials: Jon Stone, Jarrod Cole; Video Referees: Kasey Badger;

Match facts

HEAD TO HEAD since 1988
ALL56 32 23 1
SUNCORP 14 11 3 0
2020 R14 CAN 36-8 GIO 1544
2021 R14 CAN 38-16 GIO 9608
2022 R14 BRI 24-18 Suncorp 28142
2023 R6 CAN 20-14 Suncorp 31962
2023 R26 BRI 29-18 GIO 19400
1996 R8 BRI 50-16 QEII 37248
2002 R25 BRI 36-2 QEII 22502
2009 R21 CAN 56-0 Canberra10200

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