Brisbane Broncos v St George Illawarra Dragons
Suncorp Stadium, Sat 6:45pm.
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
Dragons: Darius Boyd, Brett Morris, Mark Gasnier, Matt Cooper, Jason Nightingale, Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby (c), Dan Hunt, Nathan Fien, Michael Weyman, Beau Scott, Ben Creagh, Dean Young. Interchange (from): Jon Green, Matt Prior, Adam Cuthbertson, Trent Merrin, Mitch Rein
WAYNE BENNETT AND DARREN LOCKYER FACE OFF in this sudden death clash which will be, win or lose, Darren Lockyer’s last game at Suncorp Stadium. A Brisbane victory will put an end to Wayne Bennett’s 3 year tenure of the coaching role at the St. George Illawarra Dragons club and see him head off to turn over a new leaf at the Newcastle Knights. A Dragons victory will bring to an end one of the greatest Rugby League careers in history, that being Darren Lockyer’s.
The Broncos were truly impressive in defeating the Warriors last week and their game plan remains as solid as ever. The same can be said with their impressive line up which remains unchanged from the team that took the field last week.
On the flip side, the Dragons are having well publicised issues on the field and can’t seem to find their timing. Dean Young has been named at lock but there’s every chance he will start the game from dummy half and it will be interesting to see what impact he will have, if any.
I can’t see the Dragons playing as bad as they did in the second half last week and they will be making a game of this one. If they lead at half time, even the in-form Broncos will find them hard to run down.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Jharal Yow Yeh needs to make sure his defensive positioning is at its best. Although the Dragons are struggling as a whole, their left side attack is alive and well and they will be targeting Yow Yeh.
Andrew McCullough will likely be up against numerous hookers in the opposition line up and although an ordinary game from him may not change much, if he steps up he can reap some serious rewards.
Adam Cuthbertson is a genuine ball playing forward and can provide the x-factor for the Dragons before half-time. Assuming he starts the game, the Broncos will need to make sure they have him wrapped up or else be ready to defend second-phase plays.
Jamie Soward was well off his game last week, especially in the second half and it had a nasty knock on effect through the team. He needs to get it right tonight because the Broncos will not allow room for errors in the middle of the park.
Head to Head: Broncos $1.65, Dragons $2.25
Line Betting: Broncos $1.87 (-3.5), Dragons $1.95 (+3.5)
Again the bookies have posted odds that are hard to take. If I was going to bet it would be on the Dragons +4.5 or more. The winner of this game will really have to work for it and overall the home ground advantage may prove to be the deciding factor in favour of the Broncos.
Amazingly, Wayne Bennett has coached teams in 7 finals matches at Suncorp Stadium and never won any of them.
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Starting Bank: $2000, Current Bank $2627.69
(Team lists sourced from nrl.com.au)