Broncos v Titans
The Broncos will be looking for history to repeat itself in this match. They had lost two in a row when they met and beat the Titans in Round 5, and now they have lost two in a row again. Their win over the Titans was the start of a three-game success streak that improved the Broncos’ win-loss record from a negative 1-3 to a positive 4-3, but subsequent losses to the Rabbitohs and Eels have put them in the negative again, at 4-5.
The Titans, despite that loss to the Broncos, are travelling better overall. They have a win-loss record of 5-4, including three wins in a row over the Raiders, Sea Eagles and Panthers from Rounds 2-4. Their form since then has been more down than up, with two wins and three losses, but when they badly needed a win against the Dragons last weekend they steeled themselves for a determined performance and managed to prevail narrowly.
This is a tough one to pick because of the lack of consistency from both sides this season. The home-ground advantage might appear to give the Broncos the edge, but it didn’t help the Titans the last time these two teams met.
For the Broncos, Ben Hunt will start for the injured Scott Prince at five-eighth, and Josh McGuire for the injured Ben Hannant at prop. Justin Hodges’ withdrawal due to a rib niggle on Thursday is a huge blow; Jordan Kahu will fill his boots, with Lachlan Maranta slotting onto the wing. Scott Anderson, Jarrod Wallace and Mitchell Dodds have been added to what is a five-man bench.
The Titans have an unchanged starting side, and have added Matt Srama and Mark Ioane to what is a six-man bench.
Watch Out Broncos: The 94 metres Titans fullback William Zillman ran for against the Dragons was far from his biggest total this season, but what he did come up with was choice. Zillman made one line-break and two offloads, and scored two tries. He’s dangerous from both the deep and chiming into the attack close to the opposition line. Zillman has seven line-breaks to his name, trailing only Billy Slater and Greg Inglis in the fullback ranks. That’s pretty handy company.
Watch Out Titans: Broncos halfback Peter Wallace certainly wasn’t the reason the team lost to the Eels. He did his best to make something happen after fellow playmaker Scott Prince had been forced off with injury. Wallace had four offloads in that game, and his kicking was very good as well. He should enter this game with plenty of confidence.
Plays To Watch: Expect Sam Thaiday to have more involvement running the football than in past weeks; Thaiday’s impact stats are considerably down on 2012, when he made 23 tackle busts, six line-breaks and 13 offloads in 21 games. To date he has contributed just five tackle-breaks, one line bust and two offloads. We can see him taking on the Titans from close range off a short inside pass from Ben Hunt.
It’s hard to predict how Titans centre Jamal Idris is going to go in any given game, but when he runs with conviction he is a massive threat. When the Titans lost to the Warriors two rounds back, Idris had the figures of a winner – 150 metres, two line-breaks, five offloads and two tries.
Key Match-Up: The battle of the big men will have plenty to do with it. Sam Thaiday and Josh McGuire are starting at prop for the Broncos, and Nate Myles and Luke Bailey for the Titans. Thaiday, Myles and Bailey have all played plenty of State of Origin and Test football, and McGuire is tipped to break into Origin this year. That’s plenty of meat right there, and there’s a lot of size coming off the benches as well.
Where It Will Be Won: Neither side has proven itself to be in the top echelon of NRL teams at this stage of the season, and neither is good enough to overcome a night of bad handling and silly penalties. The most-disciplined team, even if only slightly, should emerge the winner here.
The History: Played 14; Broncos 10, Titans 4. The Titans have won just one of the past eight meetings dating back to 2009.
Match Officials: Referees – Ben Cummins & Phil Haines; Sideline Officials – Russell Turner & Michael Wise; Video Referees – Steve Chiddy & Reece Williams.
NRL Live 2013 App: Gives you access to every NRL game this season on your iPhone or Android smartphone as it’s being broadcast on TV, with up to six live games each week including the Broncos v Titans clash. Plus latest live scores, breaking news, comprehensive match highlights and full match replays.
Televised: Channel 9 – live 7.35pm (Qld); Delayed 9.30pm (NSW).
The Way We See It: You can’t be confident about either team’s chances of winning this one, such has been the up-and-down nature of their seasons so far. But it’s a five-day turnaround for the Titans and they are playing away as well, so that could give the Broncos an edge. Broncos by six points.
*Statistics: NRL Stats.