Brisbane Broncos v New Zealand Warriors
Suncorp Stadium, 6:30pm.
Broncos: Gerard Beale, Dale Copley, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Jharal Yow Yew, Darren Lockyer (c), Peter Wallace, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Ben Hannant, Alex Glenn, Ben Te’o, Corey Parker. Interchange: Matt Gillett, Ben Hunt, Scott Anderson, David Hala
Warriors: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Joel Moon, Shaun Berrigan, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Aaron Heremaia, Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (C), Micheal Luck. Interchange (from): Lewis Brown, Lance Hohaia, Ben Matulino, Russell Packer, Ukuma Ta’Ai
UNFORTUNATELY FOR THE BRONCOS many people this week are talking the losses that the Broncos suffered in last week’s match against the Sea Eagles. Star fullback Josh Hoffman suffered a knee injury that has put an end to his season and the irreplaceable second rower Sam Thaiday will be forced to watch from the sidelines of Suncorp Stadium after receiving a 2 game suspension. Thaiday is such an important element for the Broncos side which bases its game heavily on defence coupled with the fact that he is a great talker and leader amongst the players. On the plus side for the Broncos, Justin Hodges returns to the backline which is a massive boost for the team.
The Warriors have named a strong side that has been reinforced by the return of Manu Vatuvei to the wing. They have named a 5 man bench which contains 4 internationals and interchanges could prove the crucial difference in the outcome.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Justin Hodges has a presence in the Broncos side that adds calm and composure which will be essential to success if the team is to make their way to the grand final carrying a lot of youngsters with limited finals experience.
Josh McGuire is in great form and has shown good ability at working the ball hard to the fringes of the ruck and gaining solid metres. With Ben Hannant showing him the way, they could prove to be a lethal combo if they catch Warriors defenders napping on their own line.
Manu Vatuvei returns but it’s only fair to say that last time he came back from injury his positional play was poor at best. His appearance could be pivotal whether it be to the Warriors benefit or disadvantage. He will be trying hard regardless.
Shaun Johnson had a great game the last time these two sides met, even bagging a stunning solo try in the process. His confidence should be high but it’s fair to say there will be some nerves for the youngster in his first NRL finals match. Johnson could make or break them.
Head to Head: Broncos $1.72, Warriors $2.15
Line Betting: Broncos (-2.5) $1.91, Warriors (+2.5) $1.91
This game will be interesting for the fact that the two sides will be playing different styles of footy. The Broncos will be looking to grind it out on the back of their defensive game in the middle of the park whereas the Warriors will be looking to play aggressively in the outer thirds of the ground and generate plenty of second phase plays. Provided they can get an equal share of possession, the Warriors should be able to find some deficiencies in the Broncos line up and take this game down to the wire. The Warriors have no injuries and a superior bench. I’ll be on the New Zealanders with a points start.
Mike’s Best Bet: Mike’s Best Bet: $109 on the Warriors +4.5 @ $1.72 (Centrebet)
Starting Bank: $2000, Current Bank $2645.13
(Team lists sourced from nrl.com.au)