Broncos' sub-16 defensive goal
The Brisbane Broncos are hoping a strong defensive effort against the Parramatta Eels on Friday night will cement their position in the competition's top four as they head into the final weeks of the regular season.
Brisbane's defence is the fifth best in the competition, with Wayne Bennett's men conceding on average 18 points per game, but even this is seen as not good enough.
The Broncos have a goal as a team to concede 16 points or less in each match, something they have only achieved once in their past six games, with that occurring in their last-start 42-12 win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
It is this high defensive standard that Brisbane will be looking to enforce against Parramatta, a team that has threats across the park, according to Bennett.
"The Eels have talented halves there now and their fullback (Clint Gutherson) was pretty good too but he got injured. They have plenty of strike power on their team so we have to be defensively good," Bennett said.
"I'm happy but I'm not complacent. We are in a good position and we need to finish the season off well and maximise that by finishing in the top four.
"You can [win the competition from outside the top four] but it's more difficult. Nothing is impossible but it's more difficult to do."
Brisbane have a tough run home, with all their opposition bar one currently sitting in the top eight.
It is something the Broncos have become accustomed to in recent years and winger Jordan Kahu would not have it any other way.
"That's one good thing that's happened at the Broncos. The last couple of years we've always played good teams heading into the finals," Kahu said.
"It's a good pre-test for finals footy. Everyone is always keen to play the Broncos. It's going to be a tough road home but all the boys are excited and so am I."
Brisbane's other representative winger, Corey Oates, will be a welcome addition to the Broncos' line-up in the coming weeks as he nears a return from a serious staph infection.
Oates is still two weeks away but Bennett is confident the young winger will be back in Broncos colours before finals.
"[Corey is] probably a couple of weeks [away] but he's training well and feeling a lot better. He's heading in the right direction," Bennett said.
"He didn't train for nearly three weeks and he was in hospital for 10 of those days so all your physical attributes start to fall away. We have to rebuild all that."