For almost the entire first half of this season, the Brisbane Broncos occupied a spot in the NRL’s top four and it was looking like business as usual for the competition’s most successful club.<br><br>As expected, their dream run hit a pothole as Origin and injuries wreaked havoc with their star-studded line-up.<br><br>Unexpected, however, was their disastrous loss of confidence and resulting slide out of the top eight.<br><br>Losses in rounds 13-16 saw them plummet to ninth on the ladder. More losses in rounds 19-21… and alarm bells were ringing.<br><br>Their spiralling season hit rock bottom in a shock 56-0 capitulation against Canberra, the club’s biggest ever defeat. <br><br>They desperately needed to play themselves into some form, and the cellar-dwelling Sharks were the perfect bait.<br><br>It was an industrious victory… but it was a victory.<br><br>Now, as they bask in the unfamiliar glory of a 30-0 second half thrashing of the Panthers… the Broncos look finals bound once again.<br><br>Standing in their way this weekend is their Achilles heel, the Dragons. Brisbane haven’t beaten the red and whites in their last eight encounters, but according to Broncos stalwart and star forward Corey Parker - the team remains undaunted and ready to continue their winning trend, salivating at the prospect of taking on the competition leaders in a Friday night blockbuster.<br><br>“We’re looking forward to the game, the Dragons have been the benchmark all year and it should give us a good gauge on where we are,” Parker told NRL.com.<br><br>“I think that last week in particular, the second half we produced a good performance. We held the Panthers scoreless there and that’s a good sign, but at the same time if we give up 24 points against the Dragons then it’s going to be very hard to beat them.”<br><br>As for whether he is worried about the recent record between the two clubs, Parker seemed unperturbed.<br><br>“To be honest, it’s not something we are thinking about and it’s not something to worry about.”<br><br>With the Dragon’s surprise loss to the Canberra last week, plenty are questioning whether the way to beat the Dragons is through sheer physicality. <br><br>It’s a game plan which could play into Brisbane’s hands with the likes of Sam Thaiday, Dave Taylor and the tackling machine that is Tonie Carroll speckling their line-up.<br><br>Parker though maintains the Raiders’ tactics were the type which, when applied effectively, would trouble any team in the NRL.<br><br>“Each team comes in with a different type of game plan, but having said that if you are able to get up in the face of any team, hit them hard and apply pressure from the start and sustain it, it’s going to go a long way to breaking them down. Canberra did that to the Dragons last week.”<br><br>With the game set to have a real finals atmosphere about it, there is sure to be even more pressure heaped on the Broncos. For the first time in their history, they are tasting life without Wayne Bennett and are facing intense pressure form a fan base accustomed to seeing their team play September football.<br><br>Parker insists he and the Broncos are still confident of keeping their record streak alive…a streak which has seen them play a part in every finals series since 1991.<br><br>“There is always pressure in Brisbane, it’s no different to any other year. The fans are expectant that we will make the finals. There has been a high standard here for 21 years and a tradition of making the finals, we’re aware of it, but it’s not going to change anything for us. We will go out on the field and play our game, it’s not something you can worry about.”<br><br>If the Broncos do show their best this weekend, they are capable of knocking off the Dragons and it’s a match Sydney based Broncos fans would do well to attend, giving their team some support amongst what will be a raucous red and white clad crowd.<br>
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