Broncos log on for Widdop watch
Ben Hunt believes the key to extending Brisbane's recent dominance over the Dragons lies in their ability to restrict Gareth Widdop's pin-point kicking game.
The Broncos will be seeking an eighth-straight win over the Dragons when they meet in Friday night's do-or-die clash at Suncorp Stadium and both are coming off impressive Round 24 victories, with the Broncos smashing the Knights 48-6 and the Dragons easily accounting for the Titans 34-6.
Although the Broncos haven’t lost against the Dragons since Round 5, 2010, their previous five games at Suncorp Stadium against the Red-V have been decided by eight points or less.
Given the tight nature of their previous contests, goal-kicking and fifth-tackle kicking options will play a significant role in deciding the outcome of the match and Broncos half Ben Hunt says the Dragons' key attacking weapon will be their five-eighth Gareth Widdop.
"Gareth has played some good footy this year and shutting him down will go a long way to winning the game," Hunt said.
"I think this year he has really improved… Week by week he just keeps getting better and like I said we need to put pressure on him and shut down his kicking game."
Widdop has 19 try assists (four of which have come directly from kicks), 19 line-break assists and 57 goals from 22 games this season, although surprisingly the ex-Storm half only has a 66 per cent success rate when it comes to adding the extras.
When it comes to kicking in general play, the England international has booted the Steeden on 204 occasions this season averaging a modest 26 metres per kick.
In contrast, Ben Hunt has made a league-high 268 kicks at an average of 30 metres to complement his 18 try assists, 18 line breaks, 17 line-break assists and 21 goals he has booted at 70 per cent as a back-up goal-kicker to Corey Parker.
Not only will Hunt have Widdop to deal with, he is also relishing the challenge of taking on opposite halfback Benji Marshall, who looked dangerous against the Titans, scoring one try and setting up another.
"I always look forward to playing Benji, he's one of the best players around. He's really fitted into the Dragons system now and has come into his own and playing good footy. I think he'll be fired up ready for a big one," said Hunt, who has scored 10 tries himself this season.
"[Marshall and Widdop] are different types of players but in their own way they're both great players and we've got to be on top of our game to shut them down.
"We know we have to win all our games now and to go out and win like we did on the weekend [against the Knights] really helps us."
Hunt also identified the extra options the Broncos now have available in attack courtesy of Justin Hodges' switch to fullback.
"'Hodgo' played one of his best games of the year and the more we get the ball in his hands the better. Having him at fullback [means] he's going to get a lot more touches and he really showed what he can do back there," he said.
"The more options you can have in attack is definitely going to be better for your team. Benny [Barba] has been improving week by week and having 'Hodgo' at the back now brings a different dimension of attack. Having both of us on either side of the ball really helps us.
"I've been calling for the ball and obviously we've got override calls and stuff like that, but he (Hodges) has called for it and it's gone his way. I got a bit filthy but that's the way it goes, I'm sure I'd do it to him as well.
"That's what you want in a team; you want both sides of the field set up for attack."