Schick Hydro Preview: Brisbane Broncos v South Sydney Rabbitohs
South Sydney travel up to Brisbane to open the ANZAC Round in a replay of the 2014 ANZAC clash that produced a 28-26 thriller in the Rabbitohs' favour.
That night is best remembered for Greg Inglis's unbelievable 90-metre run in which he beat seven Brisbane defenders to produce one of the greatest tries in NRL history.
Inglis will have to reproduce these heroics if he is to help guide his side to an unlikely win, with South Sydney struggling for consistency throughout 2016.
The Rabbitohs have just three wins from the first seven games, but interestingly, the men from Redfern made the same start to the season in 2014 – their premiership year.
It will be an historic night for Brisbane, with captain Corey Parker surpassing Nathan Hindmarsh as the most capped NRL forward in the history of the competition.
He will make his 331st appearance, captaining an unchanged Broncos side that will be chasing five wins in a row.
The Rabbitohs have stuck with the team that lost 44-18 to the North Queensland Cowboys last week, naming an unchanged 17, with hooker Damien Cook added as 18th man.
The Broncos will be full of confidence heading into Friday night after smashing the Newcastle Knights 53-0 last weekend. In doing so, Brisbane recorded their second win to nil in as many weeks after disposing of the St George Illawarra Dragons 26-0 the week before.
Watch out Broncos: Greg Inglis. Although it hasn't been his best season to date, Inglis has a habit of causing a lot of trouble for Brisbane. Inglis has scored six tries in his last four games against the Broncos, with the 29-year-old saving his best games for when he plays the club he had been linked to joining before signing on with Souths.
Inglis was a standout for the Rabbitohs when they last travelled up to Brisbane in Round 1 last year – scoring a try, setting up another and making two line breaks. In 2016, Inglis leads South Sydney in run metres, amassing 863 – 48 more than star recruit Sam Burgess. Brisbane will need to limit Inglis's kick return metres, as this has been the aspect of his game that has burnt the Broncos badly in the past. Brisbane players have already been vocal about improving their kick chases and Friday will be a huge test for them.
Watch out Rabbitohs: Ben Hun, Anthony Milford, Corey Oates. This trio of attacking weapons has caused headaches for opposition coaches and players alike all year. Last week, all three had their best games for the year and it had devastating consequences on the Newcastle Knights. Hunt produced three try assists, two line breaks and one try as he terrorised Newcastle's defensive line. Milford benefited from this immensely. The star five-eighth scored three tries, with two of them assisted directly by Hunt. Milford's footwork continues to dazzle the opposition and because of that he also had a try assist and a line break for himself last week. His try assist gave winger Oates one of his three tries for the night. Oates is one of the NRL's most imposing wingers and the 21-year-old only seems to be getting better. His 1.92m and 105kg frame meant that he could run all over Knights winger Akuila Uate time and time again last week. South Sydney will need to be on red alert whenever one of these three attacking threats has the ball in their hand – if they don't then it could be another blowout in Brisbane's favour.
Key match-up: Corey Parker vs Sam Burgess. Australia's best lock forward goes head-to-head against England's best lock forward in what is set to be an outstanding exhibition of old school football. It will be a milestone game for Parker and the 33-year-old appears to be getting better with age. He is averaging 136 metres a game in 2016 – constantly laying a platform for halves Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt to work off. In a sign of just how close these two locks are – Burgess also averages 136 metres a game. Both locks are two of the hardest workers in the competition, with each running for around 16 hit-ups per game. It is a very even battle and whoever can get the slightest upper hand is likely to help their team to a well-deserved victory.
The history: Played 32; Broncos 22, Rabbitohs 9, Drawn 1. South Sydney have won four out of their last five meetings with the Broncos. Two blowouts occurred last year between the two sides, with the Rabbitohs winning the first clash in Brisbane 36-6 and the Broncos getting their revenge later in the year, winning 47-12 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney. Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford starred that night, with Hunt scoring three tries and Milford scoring two. South Sydney have won their last three at Suncorp Stadium and Greg Inglis has a superb record when playing the Broncos. He has accumulated six tries against Brisbane in his last four games.
What are the odds: Broncos $1.16, Rabbitohs $5.25. Sportsbet punters are locking the Broncos into their multis to start the round at the extremely short price. Brisbane 13+ is holding more money than all of the other winning margin options combined. Corey Oates is again the favourite and best backed to be the first tryscorer – paying $6.50. Latest odds at Sportsbet
Match officials: Referee: Jared Maxwell; Assistant Referee: Adam Gee; Touch Judges: Michael Wise & Belinda Sleeman; Standby: Tyson Brough; Review Officials: Steve Chiddy & Luke Patten; Senior RO: Bernard Sutton.
Televised: Channel 9 – Live coverage from 7:30pm; Fox Sports 1 – Live coverage from 7:30pm.
The way we see it: Brisbane should win this game and the odds tell that story. Their defence this year has been outstanding, conceding just 73 points in seven games and South Sydney will have to be at their best if they are to break down Brisbane's defensive line. The Rabbitohs recent successes at Suncorp Stadium need to be taken into account, but those wins were from a South Sydney side in a much better place than the one travelling up to Brisbane this week. Broncos by 12 points.