It’s not often people look forward to Mondays but this may be the case this week considering the footy feast in store for us. Two top-eight sides with winning form coming into the clash is a certain cure for Mondayitis, although it does add a little anxiety when trying to pick a winner!
The Broncos continue to keep the finals football dream alive after they took care of the Titans last weekend to shift into seventh spot on the ladder. Three more wins should be enough to get them a 19th consecutive finals series.
They could climb as high as fourth if earlier results on the weekend go their way but a loss could also see them freefall to ninth… or 10th if they were really belted.
It’s no surprise they have kept the same side from the Titans victory, although Sam Thaiday will still need to shake off niggling injury.
The side plays with maturity beyond their years at times and if they can find a way to get to the September dance, they’ll be a real dark horse to contend for the title.
The Roosters have flown all the way to fourth on the ladder after their third straight win. The result against Canterbury was especially sweet considering some tough calls late in the match.
Now they could potentially get into third with a win against the Broncos or undo most of the good work and slide as low as eighth with a loss, depending on earlier games.
They have called Phil Graham onto the wing to replace Joseph Leilua, and Mose Masoe comes onto the bench in place of Martin Kennedy.
The tri-colours have a sensational core group of talent in key positions, making them premiership material – providing they can tighten up a bit defensively and get their momentum going at the right times.
Watch out Broncos: The combination of Braith Anasta, Todd Carney and Mitchell Pearce has become super strong in the past few weeks as they settle into their slightly different roles. With Carney now in the frontline getting a feel for the action, the trio is on fire and has to be stopped if the Broncos want to win this game.
Anasta now has 11 try assists ands 10 line-break assists plus five line-breaks and three tries. Carney has tallied 11 line-breaks, 11 line-break assists, 10 try assists and 12 tries while Pearce has five line-breaks, 10 line-break assists, 11 try assists and six tries.
It takes an 80-minute committed effort against them to break them down. The only probable ploy is to rush the young halves, as they are still susceptible to indecision under pressure – but it should be done with support, otherwise they can burn you.
Watch out Roosters: Broncos fullback Josh Hoffman is really finding his feet in the top grade and is coming off a stormer against the Titans. He ran for 147 metres against the Gold Coast, with two try assists, six tackle-breaks, a line-break and an offload. This has his average metres gained now at 150, his line-breaks tally up to nine, plus he has five tries and 72 tackle-breaks.
With the young back three at the Broncos growing in confidence, the Roosters need to do something to dent it. Perhaps a few Anasta towering spiral bombs early might do the trick?
Where it will be won: Fringe warfare. It’s no secret the Roosters have had great success on the edges in their wins recently, especially through Mitch Aubusson. He has busted through on both the left and right sides this season and is becoming one of the game’s value edge runners. The Broncos are also deadly on the fringes, where Darren Lockyer works with guys like Sam Thaiday on the right. Ben Te’o is also killing it on the edges.
The Broncos lead the NRL in tries scored on the right edge with 23, the Roosters are third in tries on the left edge with 19. This game will have both sides setting up pot shot after pot shot at the other on the edges; the side that develops the biggest cracks will be sent packing.
The history: Played 33; Broncos 21, Roosters 12. The Broncos have won six of the past eight between the clubs, however it was the Roosters that prevailed 25-6 on Good Friday earlier this season.
In the five matches at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane have three wins, the Roosters two. It’s the first time the two teams have met at the venue since 2005, when the Roosters won 17-10.
Conclusion: This is a genuine toss-of-the-coin job. The Roosters have shown they can play with some consistency but are still not yet up there in quality with the big boys. They have defensive lapses and must rectify them over the next few weeks.
The Broncos are finding some rhythm but also have their lapses and how they plan on stopping the Roosters’ attacking trio will be pivotal.
In saying that, the stonewall defence the Broncos produced at times against the Titans last week was classic stuff and if that reappears, the home side could have the edge. If not, the Roosters might just make it four in a row.
Match officials: Referees – Tony Archer & Alan Shortall; Sideline Officials – Steve Chiddy & Gavin Morris; Video Ref – Tim Mander.
Televised: Fox Sports – Live 7pm.
* Statistics: NRL Stats.