Schick Hydro Preview Brisbane Broncos v Canberra Raiders
Friday, 7.05PM QLD
The Canberra Raiders travel to an unhappy hunting ground on Friday night when they face the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium in a blockbuster Telstra Premiership clash.
Ricky Stuart's men have lost eight of their past nine matches at the old Lang Park, but they will be full of confidence after a huge 46-6 win against the Wests Tigers last week.
It was the Green Machine's first win of the season, with Canberra joining the Broncos on two competition points.
Brisbane have lost two in a row against two premiership favourites in the North Queensland Cowboys and Melbourne Storm, but with both games going down to the wire they'll still have belief that they can match it with the best.
The Broncos are back to full strength this week after the late withdrawal of Tevita Pangai Junior in Round 3.
Pangai Junior joins the bench in place of Benji Marshall, who drops back to the reserves after making his Brisbane debut last week.
There are no changes to the Canberra 17, with Joseph Tapine among those added to the extended bench.
It's an even match on paper and both sides will be desperate to win with neither wanting to slip to a 1-3 record.
Why the Broncos can win: Brisbane have suffered two heartbreaking losses in a row and this will serve as motivation to finally win a close one. Their one-point loss to the Cowboys in front of their home fans would have stung and they'll be hungry to record their first win at Suncorp Stadium for the year. Their record against the Raiders at Lang Park is superb, having not lost to Canberra at the ground since 2010. The Broncos defence has been on fire in the first three weeks, conceding just 53 points for the season. Wayne Bennett will have his side in top shape for this one, with Brisbane the beneficiaries of an eight-day turnaround that will see them fresh.
Why the Raiders can win: Josh Papalii is in damaging form. The Queensland and Australian representative has terrorised his opposition this year, running for an average of 144m per game and making one line break per match. His performance against Wests Tigers in Round 3 was scary, running for a huge 225m off 18 hit ups. It is arguably the best he has looked in his whole career and if he keeps it up he will provide the Raiders with great field position all night. Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer need this forward momentum to catch Brisbane's defence on the back foot. If Papalii can provide this through hard running up the middle, then the Raiders can attack from anywhere on the field.
Key match-up: Anthony Milford v Blake Austin. Two of the competition's best running halves will square up in an intriguing match-up on Friday night. Milford was quiet in Brisbane's two-point loss to the Storm in Round 3 and he will need to increase his output if the Broncos are to get the two points. On the other hand, Austin has worked his way into the season, putting in a solid performance in Round 3 after a quiet first two weeks. He put on a try assist, a line break assist and scored a try of his own in the Raiders' 40-point win over the Tigers last week. Neither half has discovered their running game in 2017, with Milford averaging 88m per game and Austin just 68m per game. Both will be looking to exploit the tired forwards at the back-end of each half and whoever does that better will put their side in a superior position.
 Telstra Premiership: Anthony Milford vs Blake Austin
Minutes Played, Try Assists, Line Break Assists, Tackle Breaks.
The history: Played 47; Broncos 27; Raider 19; Drawn 1. The Broncos have won their last three matches against the Raiders, with the average winning margin being just over 14 points. Brisbane's record against Canberra is impressive, with six of the last eight clashes going in the Broncos' favour. Brisbane haven't lost to the Raiders at Suncorp Stadium since 2010 and this cannot be understated. Jarrod Croker is the only current member of Canberra's 21-man squad who played in that match in 2010. The two teams only met once last year, with Darius Boyd scoring a hat-trick of tries in the Broncos' 26-18 win in June. Brisbane led 18-0 at half-time in that match, seeing off a late Raiders comeback to secure victory.
What are the odds: This is the most even betting game of the round according to Sportsbet. Punters were quick to snap up the big odds for Canberra, but there's very little separating the two sides as far as total money bet is concerned. Both have been backed to win 1-12. Brisbane winger Corey Oates is the favourite in the first try-scorer market. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match officials: Referee: Ashley Klein; Assistant Referee: Adam Gee; Touch Judges: Brett Suttor & Nick Morel; Review Official: Ben Galea; Senior RO: Bernard Sutton.
Televised: Channel 9 – Live coverage from 7.00PM; Fox League – Live coverage from 7.00PM.
How we see it: The Broncos' long turnaround looks to be a huge advantage heading into this one. Canberra's five-day turnaround means they can only train once leading up to this clash and that is not what you want coming up against a side of Brisbane's quality. As well as this, the Broncos' record against the Raiders at Suncorp Stadium is too good to ignore. Brisbane by eight.