Schick Hydro Preview Brisbane Broncos v South Sydney Rabbitohs
These two teams fought out a 25-24 thriller earlier this season and South Sydney will be out for revenge on Friday night after being on the wrong end of that result.
The Rabbitohs will be fresh coming off the bye, but they will want to be better then their last hit-out. That was in Round 12, with South Sydney producing a horrible display that saw them lose 22-16 to the Parramatta Eels, prompting coach Michael Maguire to give one of the great half-time sprays.
Yet it will be a largely unchanged side for Maguire this week, with Bryson Goodwin returning to the centres and Tyrell Fuimaono moving back to the bench. Robbie Rochow is the unlucky one, dropping out of the 17.
The Broncos on the on the other hand have been gallant over the Origin period but have just not had luck go their way.
Brisbane's 28-10 loss to the New Zealand Warriors was expected in Round 12 as they had seven players missing, and their two-point loss to the Sydney Roosters in Round 13 was a match that could have gone either way, even without stars Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima.
Those two return this week, with the impressive Benji Marshall dropping out of the 17 after two solid performances.
Why the Broncos can win: Brisbane will be desperate to get back to their winning ways and a match-up against a stuttering South Sydney side looms as the perfect opportunity. Queensland Maroon Milford makes his first appearance for the Broncos since Round 11 and he will be desperate to make up for lost time, with his side losing both matches in his absence. Milford's running game will be crucial at the back end of each half and if he can make the 100 run metres he averages this season then Brisbane will be hard to beat. Wayne Bennett will be looking for the 22-year-old to spark his side's attack against a huge Rabbitohs forward pack that should and will tire as the match progresses.
Why the Rabbitohs can win: South Sydney have two major reasons to win this clash: revenge and desperation. The Rabbitohs will want to get payback for their controversial one-point loss to the Broncos earlier this year. Every 50/50 call went Brisbane's way that night and it left coach Maguire livid that his side didn't get the two points. Also, it is now or never for South Sydney. Sitting in 13th place with just four wins to their name, the Rabbitohs simply must win on Friday night to keep their season alive. Another loss would see them slip to a four wins and nine losses record, and their season would be just about over after 14 rounds of competition.
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Hit Ups, All Run Metres, Tackle Breaks, Tackles.
The history: Broncos v Rabbitohs: Played 35; Broncos 25; Rabbitohs 9; Drawn 1. Brisbane have won four straight against South Sydney and have a dominant overall record over Maguire's men. However, the Broncos scraped home for a 25-24 win when the two sides met in Round 8 this year so it could be closer than expected. Brisbane's Corey Oates scored two tries in that match, with the hulking winger having scored six tries in four games against the Rabbitohs.
What are the odds: For every dollar bet on South Sydney there are seven wagered on Brisbane in Sportsbet's head-to-head market. The Broncos are well backed at the line as well, where they're conceding the start. Corey Oates is the most popular in the first try scorer market. Latest odds at sportsbet.com.au.
Match officials: Referee: Gerard Sutton; Assistant Referee: Peter Gough; Touch Judges: Belinda Sleeman & Michael Wise; Review Official: Bryan Norrie; Senior RO: Bernard Sutton.
Televised: Channel 9 – Live coverage from 7.30pm; Fox League – Live coverage from 7.30pm.
NRL.com predicts: We expect South Sydney's effort to return in a game they need to win, but class across the paddock has Brisbane in the box seat. The Broncos will be very hard to beat with the return of Milford and the timely injection of Nikorima off the bench. Brisbane have only lost one match at Suncorp Stadium all year and this should not change after this week. Broncos by 14.