Broncos v Warriors
After being thrashed 62-6 by the Panthers in the previous round, the Warriors staged a massive turnaround to beat the Knights 28-12 at home last weekend. The question now is whether they can go on with it and establish some consistency in their performances, and when it comes to the unpredictable Warriors we won’t know until they get out there.
There was never any doubt the Warriors had the ability to beat the Knights. They had shown regular glimpses of very impressive form all season, despite taking a win-loss record of 2-8 into that game. But they hadn’t played for anything like the full 80 minutes most weeks. They did against the Knights, and hopefully that result will give them something to go on with here.
The Broncos have been up and down themselves this season, but overall they have been in significantly better form than the Warriors. They took a 5-5 record into last weekend’s game against the Bulldogs, but lost it 24-14. The best run the Broncos have had this season came in Rounds 5-7, when they won three straight against the Titans, Cowboys and Tigers, but they have lost three out of four since then.
The Broncos have lost Justin Hodges, Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett and Corey Parker to State of Origin duty for Queensland. Origin hasn’t affected the Warriors.
For the Broncos, Josh Hoffman moves from the wing to take Hodges’ place in the centres, with Denan Kemp the new winger. Scott Prince returns at five-eighth, with Ben Hunt dropping to the bench. Lock Dunamis Lui and second-rower Nick Slyney come in for Parker and Gillett, and Scott Anderson is up from the bench to start in place of Thaiday. Mitchell Dodds and Aaron Whitchurch are added to what is a six-man bench.
Konrad Hurrell returns to the centres for Carlos Tuimavave in the Warriors’ side. Dominique Peyroux is added to what is a five-man bench.
Watch Out Broncos: The man with the golden hands, Warriors second-rower Feleti Mateo, produced his best performance of the season against the Knights. He played the full 80 minutes and made 26 runs for 228 metres, including one line-break. When Mateo gets quality ball away to supports, the Warriors get on a roll, and he had five offloads in that game.
Watch Out Warriors: Normally a winger or fullback, Hoffman is in the centres for the Broncos because both Hodges and Jack Reed are out, and he appeals as someone who can do damage from there. Hoffman has made eight line-breaks this season, has two offloads, and has scored nine tries. It’s worth a shot to see him get more ball than he would on the extreme outside of the backline.
Plays To Watch: Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson appeared to be suffering a crisis of confidence earlier in the season, but he began to run the ball a bit more against the Knights. That is his strength, because if he sees a hole he’s always a chance of getting through it with his speed off the mark.
Broncos halfback Peter Wallace is not going to make long breaks, but he is sneaky smart with the ball in his hands and when he draws the defence he’s got a good offload that can put a support player into the clear. Wallace is the type of player who will take on more responsibility with so many teammates out.
Key Match-Up: It is so important for struggling teams to start their sets from decent field position via good kick returns from their fullbacks if they hope to win games. The five wins to the Broncos this season have come in the five games in which fullback Corey Norman registered his biggest metres-gained figures. The three wins to the Warriors have come from the four games in which fullback Kevin Locke registered his biggest metres-gained totals.
Where It Will Be Won: The Warriors have a real opportunity to get a very important win on the road because of the absence of Origin players Thaiday, Gillett and Parker, and the injured Ben Hannant, from the Broncos’ forward pack. Josh McGuire and Alex Glenn are going to have to lead a big effort from the Broncos forwards who are left, if they are to stop the Warriors from getting on top up front.
The History: Played 31, Broncos 19, Warriors 12. The Broncos have won six of the eight clashes at Suncorp Stadium.
Match Officials: Referees – Ben Cummins & Brett Suttor. Sideline Officials – Nick Beashel & Michael Wise. Video Referees – Jason Robinson & Justin Morgan.
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 Warriors clash. Plus latest live scores, breaking news, comprehensive match highlights and full match replays.
Televised: Fox Sports – live, 7pm.
The Way We See It: The Warriors can get away with this one. It’s a particularly good look for them that at a time when the Broncos are missing both of their regular centres, the Warriors have got both of their centres – Konrad Hurrell and Dane Nielsen – on the field. Each has missed a few games this season. The Broncos look vulnerable, while the Warriors look dangerous. Warriors by six points.
*Statistics: NRL Stats