Broncos v Knights preview
Brisbane Broncos v Newcastle Knights
Friday 26 June 7.35pm
The Broncos will be looking to prove that their herculean defensive effort against the Storm was no fluke when they tackle a desperate Knights side in Round 16 of the Telstra Premiership.
Brisbane delivered a defensive performance for the ages in last Sunday's 14-12 win in Melbourne, repelling the Storm on countless occasions after being forced to make 11 line drop-outs and 118 tackles more than their opposition.
They were also on the wrong end of a 7-4 penalty count and had 10 fewer sets than the Storm but still managed to hold on for their first win in Melbourne since 2010.
Senior Broncos Corey Parker and Justin Hodges have challenged their teammates to display similar defensive resolve against the 15th-placed Knights on Friday night.
After winning their first four games of the season, the Knights have only won once since Round 4.
They weren't too bad during their 30-28 loss against the Sharks in Round 15, completing at 89-percent and only missing 20 tackles.
However, their goal-line defence is an issue and could be exposed if likes of Ben Hunt, Anthony Milford and Darius Boyd can click in attack for Brisbane.
These sides have already met this season in Round 11, when the 'Baby Broncos' recorded a 31-18 victory in Newcastle despite being without their Origin stars.
In team news, Wayne Bennett's rotation policy during the Origin period has been successful for Brisbane so far and this week it's Sam Thaiday turn to earn a rest after 65 minutes and 31 tackles against the Storm. His place is taken by Parker who sat out the clash in Melbourne. Hodges also sat out that match and returns to the centres to replace the injured Daniel Vidot (hamstring) with Jordan Kahu shifting to the wing.
The Knights are missing forwards Kade Snowden (suspension) and Chris Houston (finger), with their places taken by Paterika Vaivai and Robbie Rochow. Clint Newton and Sam Mataora come onto the bench for the injury-hit side. Regulars Jarrod Mullen (foot), Jeremy Smith (sternum), David Fa'alogo (hamstring), Tyrone Roberts (ankle) and Adam Clydsdale (shoulder) are all still missing.
Watch out Broncos: 'Jumping' Jake Mamo was unknown to most people outside the Hunter region prior to last Sunday's clash against the Sharks when he announced himself to the rugby league world with a spectacular piece of athleticism to set up a try for Carlos Tuimavave.
The 21-year-old's Superman-like effort to bat back the Steeden from over the dead-ball line into the grateful hands of Tuimavave will make any NRL highlights reel over the coming seasons.
Last weekend's match was Mamo's first NRL appearance for the season after playing for the Knights on seven occasions during his debut year in 2014. The Gosford-born speedster made 177 metres and scored a try to complement his freakish try assist during the Sharks' clash and will play fullback again against the Broncos.
Watch out Knights: He may be Brisbane's second-highest capped player behind Darrren Lockyer, but Broncos veteran Corey Parker hasn't been able to get a look in at club level for almost a month.
The combination of Origin, byes and Bennett's rotation policy mean that the 310-game forward hasn't played for the Broncos since their victory over Canberra in Round 12 on May 30. Parker will be eager to put in a big performance for his beloved Broncos before heading back into camp again with the Maroons ahead of Origin III.
The 33-year-old's numbers have been down so far when compared to his 2014 efforts, but with 128 metres, 35 tackles and two offloads per match this season he remains a key performer for Brisbane.
The History: Played 44; Broncos 30, Knights 13, Draw 1. The Broncos have dominated Newcastle since their inception in 1988; winning their first 10 matches for a total of 30 wins. Brisbane have won six out of the past eight meetings against the Novocastrians dating back to 2011 and achieved the double over their opposition last season, winning by an aggregate score of 80-12.
Did You Know: Originally from Gerringong on the south coast of New South Wales, Sims brothers Tariq and Korbin had their first taste of professional rugby league when signed by the Broncos in 2008 as a package deal with elder brother Ashton.
Neither brother played an NRL match at Brisbane although Ashton represented the club 56 times before heading to the Cowboys and is now playing for the Warrington Wolves in Super League.
Tariq, who was the Blues' 18th man in Origin II, played for Brisbane's NYC team from 2008 to 2010, while young brother Korbin, who has been wooed by the Maroons, joined him in the side during his final year at Red Hill.
What Are The Odds: Broncos $1.16 v Knights $5.25. Sportsbet customers are slightly shy of Brisbane's short price in head-to-head betting but all of the money is on Brisbane at the line (-14.5) as well as the 13+ winning margin. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match Officials: Lead Referee: Jared Maxwell; Assistant Referee: Matt Noyen; Touch Judges: Ricky MacFarLane and Clayton Sharpe; Video Referees: Bernard Sutton and Luke Phillips.
Televised: Channel Nine – 7.30pm Qld (Live); 9.30pm NSW (delayed).
The Way We See It: The Broncos have every right to feel slightly jaded after their mammoth defensive effort against the Storm, although a reduced training schedule this week should allow the ladder leaders ample time to recover ahead of this clash against the struggling Knights. If Brisbane can produce the same commitment in defence they displayed in Melbourne and have their attack click into gear, Newcastle could be in for a long night. Broncos by 16 points.